(888) 277-4253

Theater Review: “Moon Over Buffalo”

“Moon Over Buffalo” plays through February 10, 2019, at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach.
Photo credit:
Aaron Rumley

Ah, theater. Where else can you get paid to pretend you’re somebody else and maybe even get famous for it?

Film, you say? Well, that’s a bit of a sore point for actors George Hay (Arthur Hanket*) and his wife Charlotte (Katrina Ferguson*), who always wanted to be film icons but instead find themselves and their small theater company in out-of-the-way 1953 Buffalo playing “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives” in repertory.

The indignity of it all. But playwright Ken Ludwig took advantage of this all-too-familiar scenario to give audiences a crazy, mixed-up farce called “Moon Over Buffalo,” playing through Feb. 10 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

This night the company is about to have one of those nights when nothing goes right. In the tradition of backstage farces like “Noises Off” and “Room Service,” “Moon Over Buffalo” features slamming doors, seven characters, mistaken identities, sexual dalliances and an engagement you know is doomed from the get-go. Oh, and Charlotte’s nearly deaf mother Ethel (Roxane Carrasco*), acting as stage manager and providing hilarity in the mishearing department.

The Hays’ daughter Rosalind (Jacque Wilke*) is visiting her parents to give them the big news: she’s getting married, but not to actor Paul (Josh Braaten) as expected. No, she’s decided the actor’s life is not for her, and is determined to settle down with milquetoast TV weatherman Howard (Arusi Santi*). But of course, Paul is still in the troupe and around to add conflict to the situation.

Meanwhile, Charlotte has become convinced that George is dilly-dallying with young ingenue Eileen (Brittney Bertier*). Somehow it doesn’t occur to her that her fling with actor Richard (Matthew Salazar-Thompson) matters.

Charlotte is right about George, but when she finds out Eileen is carrying George’s baby, all hell breaks loose.

Everything that can go wrong does, giving rise to the best scene (and every actor’s nightmare): being stuck onstage alone to vamp until your absent counterpart arrives – and then having him show up drunk and in the wrong costume.

“Moon Over Buffalo” breaks no new ground, nor is it the best or funniest example of the genre. But Marty Burnett’s revolving set – with walls plastered solid with theatrical posters and photos – is terrific, as are Elisa Benzoni’s costumes (especially Roz’s black sparkly dress for “Private Lives”), Melanie Chen Cole’s sound design and Matt Novotny’s lighting design.

Director Matthew Wiener gets the best out of this terrific cast, and together they all keep the balls in the air with panache.

Ethel is right: watching this gang is “like living in an asylum on the guard’s day off.” But given the real-life alternatives, “Moon Over Buffalo” is a godsend.

The details

“Moon Over Buffalo” plays through February 10, 2019, at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach.

Wednesday at 7 pm; Thursday and Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 and 7 pm

Tickets: (858) 481-1055 or www.northcoastrep.org