Biloxi Blues Closing Weekend at Church Hill Theatre

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Chase away the winter doldrums for one more weekend with the heat and hilarity of Biloxi Blues, one of Neil Simon’s funniest comedies.  Reviewer Peter Heck calls it, “a boot camp hoot!”  Based on Simon’s own memories of boot camp in Mississippi during World War II, the play finds humor in the coming of age experiences of young draftees way outside their comfort zones. Michael Whitehill deftly directs the fast paced verbal exchanges and physical humor that make Biloxi Blues so much fun. His cast has obviously enjoyed the chance to inhabit Simon’s memorable characters.  Heck notes that the opening night performance was, “up to the high standards local audiences have come to expect.”

These soldiers do curse and engage in activities not included in letters home to their mothers. Older teens might learn some useful lessons about the transition to adulthood but this show is not recommended for elementary and middle school students.

James Hennesey (Jeff Rank) explains the joys of Army chow time to the newest recruits. From the left they are Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Troy Strootman as Eugene Jerome, and Robert Spray as Arnold Epstein. Photo by Steve Atkinson.

John Haas is “well cast” as Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey, and “convincing as the hard-nosed drillmaster” according to Heck.  Troy Strootman as Eugene Morris Jerome, “effectively strikes the balance between the character’s youthful naivete and his innate intelligence and insight into his fellow recruits.” Robbie Spray portrays Arnold Epstein, a draftee who is Toomey’s mentally tough nemesis.  The other soldiers in the barracks are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey.  Since soldiers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about women, Biloxi Blues gives us a couple of archetypes. Kendell Irene Davis plays Daisy Hannigan, with, “a very warm performance, given an extra dimension by Davis’s dancing.”  Christine Kinlock plays Rowena, a woman with no last name but quite a past.  The cast is rounded out with Scarlett Chappell, playing a guest at a USO dance.

Michael Whitehill has assembled an experienced and creative production team for Biloxi Blues.  Sylvia Maloney pulls together the before-the-show-opens details as Producer and Steve Atkinson wrangles the behind-the-scenes details as Stage Manager. Working with Designer Brian Draper, Whitehill designed and constructed the set. Douglas Kaufmann put together the lighting plot. Laura Crabtree, Katie Sardo, Wendy Sardo and Janice Selby complete the back stage team.

Biloxi Blues continues at Church Hill Theatre through February 4, 2018 and runs with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

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