Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 10, 2014

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Wilbraham United Players, Wilbraham, MA
 through November 16, 2014
by Walt Haggerty

“The Man Who Came to Dinner,” an inspired comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, was a major success in 1939, and still sparkles with its authors' sophisticated wit, much of which was derived at the expense of their friend, Alexander Wollcott. Wilbraham United Players' production is a delight, capturing all the humor of the original through the efforts of a multi-talented cast expertly directed by Deborah Tremble.

As the story unfolds, Sheridan Whiteside is a reluctant house-guest in a small Ohio town, where he was to deliver a lecture. Entering the home of the Stanley’s, he has fallen. In his least charming and most aggravating manner, he proceeds to terrorize everyone. Paul Nesbit plays Whiteside with great vigor and matchless timing, never missing a laugh at the expense of his hosts or anyone else.

In addition to Nesbit, other standout performers include the Stanleys, expertly played by Kevin Kary and Patricia Colkos. Janet Crosier as Whiteside’s frazzled and frustrated nurse is priceless. Stacy Gilmour is outstanding as the patient and understanding secretary in love with the strong, handsome local editor, ideally played by David Chivers. Carolyn Averill’s Lorraine Sheldon is hilarious in her dual pursuit of the editor as she awaits a long sought proposal from a stuttering English lord.

The play overflows with amusing cameo appearances by Whiteside friends and others including Mark Jacobson as a devastatingly funny Beverly Carlton. Don Clements contributes knockout comic twists that nearly derail the proceedings, and Paul Rothberg as Dr. Bradley has only to appear to have the audience roaring. Other cast members giving winning interpretations include Joe Van Allen and Christine Zdebski, the Stanley children and Michelle McBride as Mr. Stanley’s sister. Jay Muse and Gina Marieparo are the Stanley’s butler and cook, (whom Whiteside is trying to hi-jack to New York).

 “The Man Who Came to Dinner” is a perfect example of a laugh-a-minute comedy from another era when theatre did not need to resort to shock or foul language to find success.