L to R, Top Row: AvilaReese as Lotty;TweedConrad as Rose.  Seated L to R:  Anne Ripley as Mrs. Graves; Kate Fox Marcom as Lady Caroline


ENCHANTED APRIL: A romantic comedy by Matthew Barber, novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim. Directed by Cris Cassell. RossValleyPlayers (RVP) Barn Theater, MarinArt & GardenCenter, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.  415-456-9555, ext. 1 or www.rossvalleyplayers.com. March 15 –April 14, 2013


This reviewer always attempts to avoid the first person singular when writing reviews but this time I personally endorse this production of Enchanted April, a sentimental old chestnut that probably has been staged by every community theater in the country. My first experience with the play was a bare bones affair in the Redwood Grove just down the hill from the RVP barn put on by Cinnebar Theatre of Petaluma. It was a joy to see.  The second performance was by the professional Equity Center Rep in Walnut Creek with a spectacular buffo cast and second act set that earned thunderous applause. Now the RVP in its 83 continuous season comes up a winner that is best described as a cross between the previous two mentioned and probably is the best buck for your theatre allowance.

The time is 1920 and the effects of WW I are still apparent and play a role in setting the tone in the early scenes played out in front a simple gray background with sound effects of depressing rain filling the stage. The play is book ended by unhappy housewife Lotty Wilton (a superb Avila Reese) who is described by her husband Melleresh (Ron Daily) as having a “mind like a humming bird” with incessant talking.

Lotty reads an ad in the paper offering a “sunny small castle, draped with wisteria and a view of the sea” in Northern Italy for rent. With her effusive charm she cons Rose (beautifully under played by Tweed Conrad) a member of her club and an equally unhappy wife of straight laced lawyer Frederick  (a fine Tom Hudgens who almost stole the show Tuna Texas as Vera Carp) to join her in the rental.

Needing a couple more ladies to share the cost of the rental, Lotty places an ad in the paper for two others to share the castle in Italy. Next up is the beautiful sophisticated society woman Lady Caroline Bramble who is depressed with her life in the limelight seeking solitude in the sun. That role is a perfect fit for the gorgeous Kate Fox Marcom whose elegant bearing makes up for the limited dialog written for the role. Finally, there is the grumpy older Mrs. Grave (an appropriate name) played to perfection by the always professional Anne Ripley who delivers her Oscar Wilde type lines with spot on timing always getting a laugh without breaking the ensemble acting concept. Wilding (Ross Berger) is the owner of the castle and is also an artist. His role, although limited, is a minor deus ex machina needed to solve minor problems and charm Mrs. Graves out of her grumpy attitude and be a love interest for Lady Caroline Bramble.

Then there is the cook and housekeeper Costanza (Maxine Sattizan) whose dialog is entirely in Italian except for a final “Marvellous” near the end of the play that caused the audience to erupt in laughter. She absolutely ‘nails’ the role and becomes the center of attention with her entrances and exits but never upsetting the ensemble concept. Credit Cris Cassell with a directing job well done.

Conflict is never serious and often hilarious and the ending justifies the title of Enchanted April. After the drab first act set is struck a glorious sunlight patio, complete with the promised wisteria abundant flowers and a naughty statue of Cupid propped in center stage. After all, the play is a love story. This play is highly recommended with running time about two hours.

Kedar K. Adour MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com