The evening sun is setting at the American Players Theatre. It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening and light breeze flits across us in the audience. A teal archway stands at the back of the stage with large window-like structures on either side. Flower boxes have purple and pink flowers neatly lined up beneath them. Five park benches outline the sides of the stage. It feels like this late summer evening is the perfect setting for The Rivals as we delve into this light comedy of manners.
The Rivals is Over-the-Top Camp
The actors hum a starting pitch. They look out into the crowd and begin to sing the opening prologue. One by one we meet the characters and already the fun is beginning. They each strike a dramatic pose when their name is called, punctuated with a musical flourish.
David Daniel as Sir Anthony Absolute has us giggling at his pursed lips, bushy eyebrows, and pompous facial expressions.
In the case of Captain Jack Absolute played by Marcus Truschinski, he strikes two poses as our chorus explains he’s also pretending to be Ensign Beverly. As they flip back and forth introducing the two characters, Truschinski also literally flips back and forth changing his “persona” as he does.
Mrs. Malaprop played by Tracy Michelle Arnold is decked head to toe in an eye-catching all purple ensemble that sparkles at every turn as she drips with necklaces, rings, and an oversized hat. Aside from her over-the-top outfit, Arnold’s comedic timing is also the star of the show, in this writer’s opinion, as she delivers each of her infamous malapropisms with just the right amount of pause for us to find the word she actually means.
Playful Jaunts and Added Bonuses
This writer wonders what it must have been like in the rehearsal room as the actors play around the stage and we watch added moments to the action that sprinkle in an extra dose of comedy. Need to take a peek in the mirror? Kailey Azure Green promptly shows up on stage with a frame and acts as the reflection to anyone needing to fix their hair.
Daniel and Truschinski show us more of their complicated father/son relationship by not quite being able to decide if a handshake or hug is appropriate whenever they greet each other. Truschinski and Kelsey Brennan playing Lydia Languish also create a fun relationship as they jokebehind Mrs. Malaprop’s back while she tries to get them to agree to a marriage.
Josh Krause as Bob Acres is energetic as ever as he jaunts across the stage trying his best to seem sophisticated.
The ensemble comes together to give us a night out full of laughs. For those looking for a show that’s lighthearted and fun, this would be a good fit for you
Tracy Michelle Arnold
Matthew Benenson Cruz
Matthew Benenson Cruz
Directed by Aaron Posner
Artistic Director Brenda DeVita
Thru September 17, 2022
American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
Spring Green, WI 53588
About the Author: Alexis Bugajski
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
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