Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Though dated, “Mary, Mary” can still command a stage

Courtesy photo

If you’ve been away for some time from the venerable Studio Theatre on Sacramento’s “R” Street, you’ll likely be in for a charming surprise. First, there’s the set. Unlike the usual warehouse collection we see a posh New York apartment living room decorated exquisitely with the finest of furnishings. Adding to a sophisticated set design by Michael Peters, some furnishings were on loan from Chautauqua Playhouse.

The signal we get is that we’re now swimming with the professionals. Although Mary, Mary may show signs of aging, Bob and Ro Productions, now at the studio’s helm, aim at professional quality despite being a non-profit.

By the late Jean Kerr, famous mainly for Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1957), the 1961 play anatomizes contemporary marriage, with its various ambiguities. The setup brings together the witty Mary McKellaway (Christina Clem) and husband Bob (John Hopkins) in his apartment where they hope to avert IRS consequences prior to their impending divorce.

A snowstorm leaves her no option but to stay overnight as Bob’s houseguest, and the following morning she encounters Oscar (Bob Gerould), the blunt family lawyer; a glamorous Hollywood leading man, Dirk Winston (Dale Tagtmeyer), and Bob’s newly betrothed and very young Tiffany Richards (Shana McCarl).

As the witty Oscar observes, “If all you’ve got is the sun in the morning and the moon at night, you’re in trouble.” So the plot question revolves around whether Bob and Mary reunite or go their separate ways. And everything works out over three acts with three intermissions. Under Rosemarie Gerould’s skilled direction a capable cast handles the various comic roles with convincing ease, although the action is fairly predictable.

Bob and Ro Productions presents “Mary Mary” on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through June 27. Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 seniors and $15 students, and can be arranged by calling the box office at (877) 532-7171 between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tues. through Sat. Tickets can also be purchased at the door, The Studio Theatre, 1028 R St., Sacramento, CA 95811.

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