A ripping-good evening of theatre at Bucks County Playhouse

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Scene from Vanya & Sonia & Masha & SpikeAre you one of those adults who hate when someone says they are “multi-tasking” when they are ignoring you while they text? Perhaps you might even like Chekhov, just a little? If the answer is yes to both, then you missed a great play at the Bucks County Playhouse – “Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike.”

The production was well-cast, well-acted, and timely, and a ripping-good evening of theatre magic. Playwright Christopher Durang starred as Vanya. Marilu Henner, who appeared to critical and audience acclaim here last season as the seductress in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” played Masha, the glamorous film star who returns to the family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Scene from Vanya & Sonia & Masha & SpikeIn the play she arrives with a surprisingly young and handsome man who enjoys being called “Spike.” Not so surprisingly, Spike is played by the young and drop-dead gorgeous Jimmy Mason, who (somewhat ironically) lists his Instagram address as “xxjimmymason.” His many shirtless scenes and his many scenes prancing and leaping about in his underwear are the stuff of theatre legend. Sonia was played with unerring timing and comedic flair by stage veteran Deirdre Madigan.

Nina, “the girl next door,” who just happens to be there when Spike is swimming in the pond in his underwear, is played by Clea Alsip, who actually delivers the line, “Vanya, can I call you Uncle Vanya?” with an innocently sweet face. Last, but by no means least, is Mahira Kakkar’s inscrutable, insufferable, and lovable housekeeper, Cassandra, prone as she is to spout
lines from the Oresteia while searching for her Dustbuster vacuum.

Not since Thornton Wilder appeared in his play, “Our Town,” as the Stage Manager, and again in 1948 in his own, “The Skin of Our Teeth,” has a playwright appeared in his own play in New Hope. Kudos should go to the Bucks County Playhouse for encouraging Christopher Durang to star in his own play. Like Igor Stravinsky conducting his own work in the past, we have a rare
opportunity to experience the playwright’s own take on one of his own characters.

Sheryl Kaller expertly directed this wonderful production. This award-winning director returned to the Bucks County Playhouse after directing Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” on Broadway. She last directed “Chapter Two” here. “Mothers and Sons” premiered here at the Bucks County Playhouse last season before its Broadway run.

The design team included: Lauren Helpern who designed the “lovely farmhouse in Bucks County,” according to the program notes; Paloma Young, whose costume party costumes were a hoot (and Spike’s clothes which blew off his body with the slightest provocation); Zach Blane for Lighting; and David Sanderson for Sound.

 Their next production at the Playhouse will be “Ain’t Misbehavin'” which will run August 14 through September 7.

For more information, visit: www.bcp.org.

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