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Tuesday, March 06, 2012


On this as on other visits to Singer Island, Florida, we enjoyed an evening at the Lake Worth Playhouse, truly a gem of a theater where a talented and creative staff ambitiously prepare a season of solid productions.

On this occasion we saw Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest. Familiar with Agatha? Lots of interesting twists and turns, more than a few unlikely coincidences, and lots of length. One little girl in the row ahead of us said, “It's pretty boring until you get it!” Christie, however, makes you want to know “who done it,” so there is no problem staying for the long haul.

I enjoyed the play and did not solve the mystery myself. Agatha does have a way of setting that hook. But what struck me about this evening was the professionalism of the production in this small theater.

The set, designed by Norma O'Hep de Jesus, was a detailed English drawing room decorated stylishly in keeping with the social status of the characters. Thank the property manager, Phyllis A. Cafarelli for the obvious care in finding just the right touches to allow the audience to enter this 1950s room. Animal heads decorate the walls of this hunter's room; every prop was as close to authentic as possible.

Perhaps this was so striking to me because several weeks ago we saw Porgy and Bess on Broadway, and the set was so incredibly unimaginative and flat that it actively made a negative impact on the entire production.

I also applaud the sound engineer. I usually employ a theater's listening device, but none needed here. It was a pleasant surprise to find the amplification and balance fine and most of the speech—in British accent—was clearly enunciated, a fact I attribute to a conscientious director, Patricia Storch-Goodrich. Only one performer was consistently difficult for me to understand, Eric Salas who played Sergeant Cadwallader. As a frequent theater goer, I am sometimes at a loss when actors mumble or race through their lines. Not so for this The Unexpected Guest.

I enjoyed the set designed by Norma O'Hep de Jesus, and I believe she doubled as lighting designer. She did a fine job as the lighting changed with the time of day, and it worked well with the play in a competent, unobtrusive way. Thanks, too, to the Light Board Operator, Jessica Pilch.

Frequently the applause for the actors is heard loud and clear while the crew is somewhat forgotten. Let's not overlook that the crew really is the wind beneath their wings. In this production of The Unexpected Guest, that surely is the case.
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