Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler
Fenton Village Player’s Production of The Kitchen Witches by Canadian playwright Caroline Smith is a must see.
The Kitchen Witches is about two women who host television shows about cooking. They hate each other and their shows have been cancelled. They come together right at the beginning of the last show of Babcha’s program. The women hate each other and get into a nasty argument. The television gurus decide that they should have a show together because it would be energetic and the arguments would attract an audience. A show is created where they would “cook” together. Not much cooking gets done. The rehearsal is short lived.
Babcha’s son, Stephen, is the producer and is caught between the warring women. When the truth comes out, both Stephen’s life and that of the two cooks are changed. They are, to say the least, a dysfunctional family: but I don’t want to give away too much. It’s enough to say that the laughing starts even before the actors enter as the stage crew shares a part in the play, too.
Babcha-Dolly Biddle (Sandy Mascow) is a tour de force and nothing goes the way it’s planned. Mascow does a wonderful job as Dolly. She keeps the accents of the various characters she portrays straight throughout. She is funny, energetic and has great rapport with the others.
Isobel Lomax (Mary Powers) is just the opposite of Dolly. She is also masterful from the second she steps on stage. She and Mascow are a great match. Powers brings great energy and talent to the stage. The insults and innuendo’s flow freely and without mercy. Neither of the two missed a beat.
Together those two performers put on a great show Friday and a clinic for those wishing to learn about acting. My only comment is that they should have put more into the food fight. It was funny, but it was too brief.
Stephen Biddle (Ryan Particka) is the one who tries to keep the show together. He endures insults, manipulation, emotional tantrums by both women while trying to keep things going. Particka did a great job. His continually changing facial and body expressions were a pleasure to watch. The poor son was never in control and Particka played that with great skill.
The idea of using local businesses during the TV show was a good idea. People even laughed when they mentioned some of the establishments. The one about a café and gas nearly brought the house down.
The two puppets presented by Diane Marsom and Daniel Ragan were a nice touch to the production. They mimicked the two cooks. Daniel Ragan was very funny as the silent camera man.
The cast handled the audience participation cooking segments very well. They picked a celebrity from the audience to judge the contest. Again, the two cooks were just a tad cautious covering the poor judge with ingredients. But it was still very funny.
The entire backstage crew is to be commended for keeping the scene changes short even thought they had to clean up messes. They flowed smoothly from start to finish. Even Rich Holtje, the security guard, took a cell phone from somebody in the audience and dropped it into a fish bowl full of water; a very nice touch. They should do that in every theatre. Laura Legant deserves a round of applause for choosing and directing a very good cast and crew. Joe Powers did a fine job with the lights and sound.
The set was a good match for the show. It was a little on the seedy side, but that fit right in with the play. Costumes, of which there were many, added to the zaniness of the characters.
If you are looking for an evening of laughs and good entertainment, The Kitchen Witches would be an ideal choice.
The Kitchen Witches performances are October 10-13, 17-20, 2013. Tickets may be purchased at the UPS Store, 17195 Silver Parkway, 810-750-2920; or the Fenton Wine & Brewery 1545 N. Leroy St., 810-373-4194. Call Fenton Village Players at 810-750-7700, or visit their website fentonvillageplayers.org.
Fenton Village Players offers a dinner/theatre package for this production. My wife and I bought tickets and dinner at the Beale Street Smokehouse. We had a good meal and then it was off to the theatre. Beale Street Smokehouse is located at 2461 N. Street in Fenton.