Joel Sandel, Sara Gaston perform a scene from 'Present Laughter.' Photo by Doug Killgore
Banks & Stephen Hartman
Jason & Faye Casell
Isabelle Dom, Peter Dom
Robert Sanborn, Ginny Sanborn
There was a certain friskiness afoot in Rice Village over the weekend, compliments of Noël Coward and Main Street Theater. Characters from his best-known works came and went through the theater singing and prancing and quoting the bon mots of the colorful British playwright, composer, actor, and singer. “Cocktails & Coward” has become a summer tradition for Main Street Theater that combines audience costuming, martinis and bubbly with playful fundraising.
Inspired audience dressing includes white dinner jackets, smoking jackets and party frocks reminiscent of the 1930s, though really anything goes for the back-to-back performances. The evening begins with libations appropriate to the era with mere mortals imbibing in the theater lobby and VIP guests, their station identified with a red carnation in the lapel, moving upstairs to the music rehearsal room for larger servings and passed hors d’oeuvres from Jim Benton catering.
It was a very merry night, the perfect antidote to the miserable hot and sticky summer doldrums.
Snippets from Present Laughter, Private Lives, Blithe Spirit, and Fallen Angels lifted the spirits as did Noël Coward songs including “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” “Chase Me Charlie,” “Has Anybody Seen Our Ship,” “I Went to a Marvelous Party,” and “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington.”
It’s a total volunteer effort on the part of the actors who included Main Street regulars Joel Sandel, Sara Gaston, Lisa Villegas, Susan Shofner, and Andrew Ruthven. A host of other talents rounded out the performances including Susan Draper, Elizabeth Marshall Black, Joel Grothe, Jerry Miller, Taelon Stonecipher, and Cameron Davis.
Claire Hart-Palumbo directed the lively cast with musical direction by Jeannine Rowden.
Main Street Theater launches its 42nd season with Maxim Gorky’s “Enemies,” opening September 16.