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Published: Saturday, 5/8/2004

Laughs and poignancy abound in Players' finale

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Barefoot in the Park and Cinderella may seem like an incongruous combination, but there is a strong resemblance to both in Social Security, playing at the Village Players.

There is also an abundance of sexual innuendo and dialogue in Andrew Bergman's often-hilarious comedy, which is definitely not suited for little people.

One-liners fly across the stage like tennis balls, and the cast lobs them back and forth with split-second timing. Dana Pilrose (A Little Night Music) and Don Weber (The Sunshine Boys) play Barbara and David Kahn, art dealers whose New York loft is a combined gallery and home. (Kudos to Jamey Livingston and his crew for a knock-out set.)

This particular night, the Kahns are awaiting the arrival of Barbara's sister and brother-in-law, Trudy (Lynnie Heinemann, Arsenic and Old Lace) and Martin Heyman (Marc Malley, who is generally found in the Players' sound booth), who are stopping by to "discuss something."

Trudy and Martin disapprove of the Kahns, considering them to be extravagant and self-centered, so Barbara is a dither over what they could want. But all of her speculation doesn't even come close to reality: The Heymans are having a family crisis, and they are leaving Trudy and Barbara's mother, Sophie (Jean Mills, Driving Miss Daisy), who has been living with them, with the Kahns.

Barbara and David are appalled. They are about to host the famous painter Maurice Koenig (John Henry, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), and they have no idea what to do with Sophie, a demanding tyrant.

But there are a lot more surprises in store for everyone.

The cast couldn't be better. Pilrose and Weber have superb comedic timing; Heinemann and Malley walk a fine line and keep their characters more sympathetic than caricature, and Mills and Henry are such good performers that their very presence adds quality to a production.

Director Julie Zatko maintains a brisk pace, which fits in with the tone of Social Security. But the abundant jokes are leavened with a healthy dose of poignancy, making the show particularly affecting.

It is a fitting finale to a fine season of community theater.

"Social Security" runs through May 22 in the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. May 16. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and students. Information: 419-472-6817.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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