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Wednesday, October 16,2013

'Crazy' in love

Starlight keeps audiences in stitches with original comedy vignettes

by Paul Wozniak
When the moon hits your eye/ Like a big pizza pie/ That’s amore. / When the humor is broad/ but the Review pace tends to plod / That’s a-“Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

The world premiere of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten’s joint script feels custom written for the Starlight Dinner Theatre stage. The show is a series of situational comedy sketches — generously, straightforwardly written —set under a particularly romantic moon. Although Friday night’s debut struggled to maintain a steady pace by the second act, the generally uproarious audience response certified the script as comedic gold.

The strength of the script is its structure; five mini-scenes instead of one feature length narrative. Each scene’s premise ranges from silly to preposterous, but the abbreviated length of each segment allows the writers to resolve each scenario naturally without burdensome complications. In the first scene, a news anchor expresses her desire for her co-anchor — on camera. Scene two follows a philandering used car salesman confronted by all three of his mistresses at the same time. From there the action jet sets to New York City, then to London and finally to a hotel room in Honolulu.

Generally, the Starlight cast tends to ham up the jokes, telegraphing punchlines to the audience without regard to sincerity or character — an acting style the audience agreed to. But actors Michael Hays, Rick Dethlefsen, and Angela Dill ground their performances in the real world and bring their characters and the script closer to its full comedic potential.

Some of the show’s best moments are the sight gags. Jane Zussman supplies one of the best examples during the London rooftop scene as an old and hobbling waitress attempting to fulfill a patron’s request for live music. Her instrument choices are top-heavy to say the least.

Fortunately for the cast, the dialogue is extremely light if somewhat familiar. Jokes like how to tell if a man is lying (“His lips are moving”). are hardly original, but Jones, Hope and Wooten somehow keep their script sounding fresh. That freshness transfers through the cast who appear to be having a ball.

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Starlight Dinner Theatre Through Saturday, Oct. 19 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday Waverly East Cafetorium, 3131 W. Michigan Ave., Lansing Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:30. Dinner reservations are required 48 hours in advance. Show and dinner: $33 adults; $28 seniors and students; $20 children 12 and under Show only: $15 adults, seniors, students; $10 children 12 and under starlightdinnertheatre.com

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