I love that word "chortle," a blend of chuckle and snort. Our friend Google says that Lewis Carroll coined it in “Through the Looking Glass” in 1871. So thank you Lewis because chortles flew like demented pigeons throughout Actors' Playhouse main stage presentation of Richard Bean's “One Man, Two Guvnors” on opening night on Friday, Jan. 25.
Some difficulty may incur while following the plot because of tears streaming from eyes squeezed shut by great guffaws, so here's a summary: girls, sex, gangsters, murder, twins, more sex, life in English boarding schools, upper class twits, bumbling idiots, even more sex, a one step from death elderly waiter, and a would be actor who completely unaided could destroy the whole idea of theater being a cultural pursuit. Sea side Brighton in 1963. With a four piece skiffle band.
Actors' artistic director David Arisco has taken nineteen actors and four musicians and provided a two-act evening of pretty much pure enjoyment, and the driving forces are Wesley Slade and Clay Cartland.
Hey, guys, I just don't know to whom I should give the props. A lip twitch from Cartland can make a hamster funeral a laughathon. And Slade, an improv giant, can scat his way, voice and body, into postures that make hilarity a terminal breathing problem.
And, of course, all the other actors are something to write home about. There's Cliff Burgess playing the teddibly affected Stanley Stubbins and Christopher Chisholm as scholarly lawyer Harry Dangle. Anna Lise Jensen is Dolly, secretarial coffee girl with untoward itches and Paul Louis as Charlie 'The Duck' Clench, master mobster. Leah Sessa is the almost virginal Pauline, all petticoats and goo goo eyes. Krystal Millie Valdes is Rosco/Rachel the sort of identical, slightly dead, twins. Reggie Whitehead is restaurateur Lloyd Boateng of the Dagenham Boatengs and, thrashing in death's throes, Phillip Andrew Santiago as Alfie, omen of the afterlife. Gareth, the unflappable waiter is played by Christian Ortega.
Music director and bassist Daniel Bailey leads the nineteen sixties brill rock and skiffle band with Eric Fabregat lead vocalist/guitar, Chase Maddox, electric guitar, and Lucas Weber, percussion.
In a typically slick Actors' production Jodi Dellaventura is the scenic and properties designer; Eric Nelson the lights; Shaun Mitchell the sound; Ellis Tillman the costumes and Gerard Kelly the wigs.
There's no doubt this is a wonderfully funny show hewing completely to the British original. So unless you're a raging anglophile some of the jokes and references will skate into the ether. Best to brush up on your sceptred isle before you see the show. And see it you should.
“One Man,Two Guvnors” plays at the Actor's Playhouse in the Miracle Theatre through Feb. 10. 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. 305-444-9293 www.actorsplayhouse.org