John Campbell in Moon Over Buffalo. Photo:CLT
Moon Over Buffalo
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Barbara O’Daniel-Munger
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Ask any actor, where does the most action happen? And they will tell you about the green room. There you can find enough drama and mayhem to fill a play. In Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo, a traveling theater company finds its way into the upstate New York town with big hopes and even bigger mishaps. And the current production at Clarksville Little Theater shows just how comical these mishaps can be.
There is always an unspoken wink and nod to the audience when smaller theaters take on these backstage satires and this show is no exception. The humor lies in the earnest efforts to put on a show despite any and all disasters that happen backstage. The dialogue keeps a naturally fast pace with enough exposition to tell you who is in love with who and who are the stars of the show. The cast takes full advantage of the physical humor and sight gags too. Phallic noses and torn pants deserved more laughs than the small audience provided. And the evenly timed hide-and-seek sequence of opening and shutting doors kept a steady pace worthy of a chuckle or two.
At the center of the play are George (John Campbell) and Charlotte (Beth Sturgeon Northup), a couple of fading theatrical stars still hungry for the spotlight. Campbell’s George is a full-on star with a big personality as he hits the stage as Cyrano. He gives an evenly impressive turn with drunken ramblings of Shakespearean proportions as well. Campbell’s performance isn’t completely fueled by boasting though. He provides some vulnerability and nostalgia as Georgia continuously tackles with his career framed by the transition from theater to television and film. Playing Charlotte, Northup is a fully formed love interest and sometimes a foil to George. She debates an unhappy marriage and affair, bringing moments of great timing and relatability. Rena Cherry Brown’s appearance as Ethel is a true delight. Her comebacks and one-liners are so vicious and well-played, it truly proves she is lacking nothing at her age. Brown and Campbell bring some great comedic moments within their tense argumentative moments.
Shenanigans ensue at the arrival of George and Charlotte’s daughter, Rosalind played by Erin McMahon. Wanting a quiet married life with a shy weatherman, Rosalind finds herself unintentionally pulled into her parents’ hectic theater life. McMahon shows range as a straight man even in the most chaotic of situations. While Rosalind lands in a flimsy love triangle of sorts, it seems the moments leading to the resolution were rushed which might be a flaw within the playwright’s work. It’s clear that Rosalind will end up with the exasperated Paul, played with charismatic energy by Seth Bard as opposed to Howard, played by the awkwardly charming Patric Carlsen. Even though some rising actions seemed to be lacking, the happy ending was still endearing.
Moon Over Buffalo is a fun show. Clarksville Little Theater keeps the laughs flowing in this tribute to the crazy life of an actor. On stage or backstage, the action and fun don’t stop.
Moon Over Buffalo
March 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 7:30 pm
March 12 & 19 at 2:00 pm
Clarksville Little Theatre
301 Montgomery Avenue
Clarksville, IN 47129
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!