“Becky’s New Car”
The Phoenix Theatre
9673 Firdale Ave.
Directed by Ted Jaquith
Playwright Steven Dietz
Plays through Sunday, May 1
The Theatre? Christine Mosere now surpasses all local theatre divas thanks to her Broadway-quality performance as main character, Becky, in the Phoenix Theatre’s production “Becky’s New Car”.
A part could not have been more tailor-made for the managing director of the Firdale fun house. This sparkling performer and theatre devotee developed her chops in New York’s theatre district before moving to Seattle nearly six years ago and lucky Edmonds that she discovered our theatre community. (My Edmonds News most recently interviewed Christine in December 2015.)
In Steven Dietz’ production, Becky — a middle-aged woman suffering the doldrums of a staid life — is plucked from her dreary existence through a series of misunderstandings, dangling sentences and double entendres. This is the stuff of great comedy and this particular Phoenix Theatre troupe zips in and out of the fast lane in “Becky’s New Car” with professional aplomb.
According to director Ted Jaquith, “[Playwright] Steven Dietz was commissioned by (Seattle real estate investor) Charles Staadecker to write the play as a gift for his wife Benita. It was part of a new works program at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Mrs. Staadecker received the play’s first scene on her birthday.”
Jaquith received his directorial nod from The Phoenix after winning The People’s Choice award for his efforts during the company’s 24-hour festival last summer.
As he was greeted by well-wishers after Friday night’s performance, Jaquith indicated his pleasure in working with the cast of “Becky’s New Car.” It’s our prediction that we will be seeing him again in the director’s chair at The Phoenix.
The staging and casting for “Becky’s New Car” is keenly and professionally handled by Jaquith and it is these attributes that brings this production to a first place finish. (Hint and spoiler alert: No buckets of water will be thrown at you, but those seated in the front row of the house are in for a delightful series of treats. Delightful! We say no more!)
Mosere commands as much as 70 percent of the script and steers the production through a roaringly funny series of curves and spins as her character develops a dalliance with Walter (played so sharply by Michael G. McFadden). It would take someone with Mosere’s experience to pull off this type of production as successfully as she does – Artfully Edmonds‘ Tony Award!
In her daydreams, Becky yearns for the dazzling excitement of another lifestyle – and Walter eagerly provides. As the age-old warning, “Be careful what you wish for,” plays in the mind’s of the audience Becky’s attempts to untangle from the misunderstandings she has orchestrated through acquiescence of her fate only leads her further down the road of disaster. Like a rubbernecker to an auto accident Artfully Edmonds watched with horror and a pinch of glee as Mosere’s character put pedal to the metal and revved into . . . well, best you grab a set of tickets to this production to see the results of this calamity!
The choice of McFadden as Walter, the sharply dressed, dripping-rich widower whose eagerness to escape his loneliness sets his and Becky’s affair into gear is perfect. Costume designer Arin Larson is to be congratulated for her choice of Walter’s gorgeous suits with their sharp “dandy” lines. McFadden plays it well – as always.
Melanie Calderwood’s late-in-the-play entrance drew expected — and audible — approval from the opening night crowd; and her character’s envy-motivated digs at Becky are audaciously funny. As Calderwood’s “Ginger” falls from society queen to hourly worker with an unlikely romantic pairing the audience guffaws in delight – while still loving every line that Calderwood delivers.
It was fun to see Rick Wright play the part of Becky’s husband, Joe Foster. Rick is a natural at The Phoenix (and a great contributor to community theatre) in what has developed into an admired playhouse troupe of “regulars”. By building a core company of seasoned actors, The Phoenix has found the key to success in a loyal fan base, and synergy among actors that comes with trust and funny-bone history.
Newbies to the prestigious comedy stage include Jake Friang (who plays Becky and Joe Foster’s son, Chris Foster) who we are looking forward to seeing more; Steve Heiret lopes on and off the stage as “Steve” in a manner that drew raucous laughs from the audience; and Veronica Tuttel, playing Walter’s daughter and Chris Foster’s love interest, is a solid theatre talent who enters The Phoenix stage from well-played stints with the theatre across town.
This Phoenix production play Friday and Saturday evenings and feature a Sunday matinee. Tickets for “Becky’s New Car” are available at the theatre’s online box office https://www.phoenixtheatreedmonds.org or by calling 206-533-2000.
— by Emily Hill