Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Laff-laced ‘Farce of Habit’ is full-on silly in Green Bay

Green Bay Community Theater Farce of Habit scene_1556287214055.jpg.jpg

An ax murderer. A remote resort in the Ozarks. A guy hiding away. A guy who keeps showing up in exotic costumes, male and female. A snarky nun. A milquetoast tossed into adventure. An undercover cop in super-snug black leather. Three marriages in varying stages of turmoil.

Those are some of the ingredients in the kinda/sorta story of “Farce of Habit.” Leaping into that fray with silly/comedic energy is an experienced Green Bay Community Theater cast guided by director Kristi Skrinska. Performances continue to May 5 in the troupe’s Robert Lee Brault Playhouse.

The show is built for laffs. That’s all. Laffs. Leave your worries on the doorstep laffs. Sit back and enjoy yourself laffs.

The Jones Hope Wooten play writing team – 19 scripts going at present! – doesn’t bother with subtleties. That is most noticeable when a radio talk show star arrives with his EGO radiating rudeness. He spouts about honesty as he orders people around to do things on the quick-quick. He scoffs at people of the South, stereotyping them as gullible hicks.

When their roles call for it, cast members take on a Southern-ness in their talk, adding color.

The show is chock-full of goofiness.

The couple running the resort have habits, the wife Wanelle (Nannette Macy) to caffeine, the husband D. Gene (Bill Sergott) to scratching all over.

Their relatives are quirky. A brother and his wife (Kristofer Holly and Jodi Angeli) discover their marriage is not legal, thanks to the ax murderer. The local cop (Kathy Keeney) is both no-nonsense and all nonsense when she goes undercover in an outlandish outfit.

Resort guests include the nasty ego radio guy (David Wilson), the suddenly adventurous guy (Steven L. Troudt), an excitable woman on a search (Roshelle Amundson) and the nun (Nichole Hood) who completes the reference to the title “Farce of Habit.”

Costuming is a big part of this show. It is a “Let’s dress up and have fun” show, especially for the guy trying to save his marriage and the cop. Plenty of laughs (and laffs) are milked through the costuming.

Woven in is teasing galore. A prime example is the line that community theater saves lives.

The production is a frisky frolic by folks who know how to give play-acting a spin, no matter how goofball it is.

***

Creative: Playwrights – Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten (aka Jones, Hope Wooten); director – Kristi Skrinska, production coordinator – Patricia Grimm; assistant director, set dresser/designer – Jami Attaway Thompson; stage manager – Rebekah Witte; head carpenter – Noah Villarreal; lighting and sound designer – Peter Wojtwicz; costume designer – Cindy Stein; properties designer – Karen Konshak; make-up designer – Amber Gunderson

Cast:

Wanelle Wilburn – Nannette Macy

D. Gene Wilburn – Bill Sergott

Maxie Wilburn Suggs – Kathy Keeney

David Wilson – Jock McNair

Jenna Sealy Wilburn – Jodi Angeli

Ty Wilburn – Kristofer Holly

Huddle Fisk – Steven L. Troudt

Sister Myrtle Agnes – Nichole Hood

Barbara Stratton – Roshelle Amundson

Running time: Two hours, 10 minutes

Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. April 26; 4 and 7:30 p.m. April 27; 7:30 p.m. May 1, 2 and 3; 4 and 7:30 p.m. May 4; 2 p.m. May 5

Info: gbcommunitytheater.com

***

NEXT SEASON: “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday” by Michael Brady, Sept. 19-21, 23-29; “Ghost in the Meadow” by Joseph Simonelli, Nov. 14-16, 20-24; “Bus Stop” by William Inge, Feb. 20-22, 26-March 1; “Things My Mother Taught Me” by Katherine DiSavino, April 16-18, 22-26.

THE VENUE: Green Bay Community Theater is one of the few community theaters that owns its performance space and rehearsal space under the same roof. Stability is a big benefit. A landmark on Green Bay’s west side, the 193-seat Robert Lee Brault Playhouse features elements of an earlier time as a church, built in 1854 (the current backstage dressing room), 1895 (auditorium) and 1911 (today’s Community Room). The most obvious remnants are the church’s peaked side-wall windows with stained glass that is covered. High-up triangular windows still contain stained glass, and their patterns can be seen playing on sunny days when the troupe has matinees. The auditorium includes a 30 by 23-foot open-end stage with no stage curtain. The troupe has remodeled some portions of the building with medieval touches, but the seating area retains elements of a church. The theater includes wooden arches with decorative geometric designs on the ends and exposed beams in the sharply angled ceiling. The stage front consists of woodwork of repeated arches that looks to be repurposed wainscoting from other parts of the building. The troupe owns the building, which became its home in 1966. The Community Room serves as a gathering space for audiences prior to a performance and at intermission and for board and other internal meetings.

THE PERSON: Larger-than-life personality Robert Lee Brault was a longtime Green Bay Community Theater actor, director, scenic designer and managing director. He and his wife, Rita Brault, were mainstays from the time the troupe performed at various locations through the purchase of the present playhouse. Bob Brault died Nov. 1, 2015, in Florida at age 88. The troupe has established a special programming and education fund in his name.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My seven books are available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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