In an era of bad economic news, job losses and a housing crash, it should come as no surprise that people are searching for – and need – a really good laugh. And that’s exactly what Meadow Brook Theatre delivers with the Michigan premiere of “Kong’s Night Out” – and plenty of them!
Created by playwright (and director) Jack Neary who always wondered what was going on in the room NEXT to the room invaded by King Kong’s gigantic fist in the original 1933 movie, “Kong” peeks in on the second-generation rivalry between two Broadway producers.
It’s hours before opening night, and Myron Siegel (Christopher Howe) is upset to learn that pre-sold tickets for “Foxy Felicia” are being returned by the busloads. Why? Because the talk of the town has shifted to the top-secret project Carl Denham (Wayne David Parker) has planned for that very same night, and nervous money-man Sig Higgenbottom (Eddie Mekka) is threatening to pull his money out of Siegel’s sure-to-bomb extravaganza. So with the help of his investor-mother (and former stripper) Sally Charmaine (Cindy Williams), Siegel schemes to uncover his rival’s plans – and squash them.
Of course, since “Kong” IS a farce, nothing goes as planned. Instead, what Neary offers is a silly, frothy and thoroughly delightful night of laughs, packed with plenty of twists and turns, door slams and witty banter to keep it interesting.
But what REALLY sells the production are the near-perfect performances by not only the actors mentioned above, but also by the stellar supporting cast members who at times nearly stole the show on opening night.
In particular, Kady Zadora brightens the stage as Siegel’s giggly, buxom, but not-as-dumb-as-she-acts niece from Buffalo, Daisy, who eagerly agrees to help save her uncle’s show – with strings attached, of course.
And Teri Clark Linden beautifully captures both the charming and slimy sides of Bertrille, the sexy, opportunistic and side-switching wife of Myron (and secret girlfriend of Carl).
However, it’s Rusty Mewha who especially enchants the audience as Jack, the dimwitted fiance of Ann Darrow (the object of Kong’s affection). Every entrance he makes is memorable – and you won’t soon forget his impersonation of Kong crouching on a stage.
All of the show’s technical elements serve the show quite well – from Kristen Gribbin’s recreation of an expensive New York hotel suite to Reid G. Johnson’s lights and Corey T. Globke’s period-perfect costumes.
The production’s only noticeable flaw occurs in Act Two, as poorly conceived and executed chase scenes lose their steam – and, seemingly, the actors’ interest – half-way through.
‘Kong’s Night Out’
Meadow Brook Theatre, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester. Wed.-Sun., through March 8. Tickets: $30-$39. For information: 248-377-3300 or http://www.mbtheatre.com