Short Attention Span Brings Laughter to Garfield

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Sharon Herz as Lucy, an energetic Shih-Tsu dog who annoys the more serious dog, Archibald, played by Lyle Pinder.  Archibald’s owner is played by Christine Kinlock — “Park and Play” in Short Attention Span Theatre – AKA SAST – All photos by Steve Atkinson 

Short Attention Span Theatre is back! The Garfield Center’s 10-Minute Play Festival runs three weekends through July 7, showcasing local actors, directors, and playwrights in eight rib-tickling comedies.

Paul Cambardella as Marvelous Man in “The Superhero.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

First up is “The Superhero,” written by Brent Lewis and directed by Diane Landskroener. It features Brianna Johnson as a cat burglar who breaks into the apartment of a comic book fan played by Dan Guidice. Tom Dorman makes a brief appearance as a city cop warning about burglaries, and Paul Cambardella takes the title role. The final straw is when the burglar finally figures out what’s really valuable among the fanboy’s possessions.  It’s a hoot.

Next on the list is “Don Vito’s Method,” by Rich Pauli, directed by Garfield Center theater manager Nick Carter. Bradley Chaires plays a Mafia don who seeks a very special favor from his grandson, played by Lyle Pinder. Chaires does one of the better Marlon Brando imitations you’re likely to see, and Pinder is earnest and clueless as the young minion. It has a clever twist at the end!

 

Diane Landskroener and Jim Landskroener as Elise and Walter in “Mistranslation — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Diane and Jim Landskroener star in Jack Rushton’s “Mistranslations,” directed by Jim Landskroener. The schtick here is a set of special hearing aids meant to solve the problem of one member of a couple putting their own interpretation on something the other says. A nice spin-off of a situation familiar to any couple that’s been together longer than one or two dates.

Kara Emily Krantz’s “Park and Play,” directed by Zac Ryan, concludes the first half of the bill. Lyle Pinder plays Archibald, a dog whose owner, played by Christine Kinlock, brings him to the park to play. Unfortunately, Archibald wants nothing to do with the other dogs – especially a flighty Shih-Tsu played by Sharon Herz. Pinder and Herz are thoroughly amusing – and believable – as dogs. This skit is a “howling” success!

Brad Chaires and Paul Cambardella are two princes competing for the sleeping princess (Phebe Wood) in “Power Nap.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

After intermission, Steve Arnold’s “Power Nap,” directed by Tia Glomb, brings on a trio of princes competing for the honor of awakening a sleeping beauty.are two sword-wielding princes who believe it to be their destiny to kiss the sleeping princess and inherit the 47 kingdoms she rules by right. But then arrives a bookish prince who throws the competition into a new light – proving, in the process, that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Phebe Wood pays the princess, who turns out to have her own opinion of what’s involved in the magical bargain.

“Everybody Says I Love You,” features two actors  played by Nick Carter and Amanda Fry (seated) and two script doctors – (Dan Guidice and Jen Friedman ) — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Mark Sullivan wrote and directed “Everybody Says I Love You,” featuring two actors in a love scene, played by Amanda Fry and Nick Carter. But shortly into the scene, two script doctors – played by Jen Friedman and Dan Guidice – decide to tweak the dialogue and the characters’ motivations to make it more dramatic. It’s full of theatrical in-jokes, and the bare-bones plot grows even more preposterous with each rewrite.  For anyone who knows theatre, it rings all too true!

“Old Aquatics,” written by Steven Korbar and directed by Chaires, stars Sharon Herz as a drunken New Year’s Eve partygoer and Robert Holt as a driver sent to get her safely home. But it turns out that the partygoer is looking for more than the driver bargained for. Herz is convincingly sloshed, and her dialogue is a string of hilarious non-sequiturs, while Holt does a good job as the straight man.

Shannon Whitaker as the bride in “Wedding Belles” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

The final offering is “Wedding Belles,” by Brett Horsey, directed by Jennifer Kafka Smith. Shannon Whitaker plays a bride admiring her gorgeous dress, only to be interrupted by the groom – whom she tries to send away, telling him it’s bad luck to see her before the wedding. Finally, the groom, played by Zac Ryan, convinces her that it’s absolutely necessary for them to talk – at which point the real fun begins. It’s capped off by an appearance by Jim Landskroener as the father of the bride.

Mark Sullivan, who is co-producer of the festival with Diane Landskroener, said after the performance Sunday that this year’s festival drew some 80 entries. “It was daunting to read them all,” he said. The eight-person panel making the final selection chose four by playwrights with a local connection, including himself, Rich Pauli, who hails from Annapolis, and Brent Lewis of Easton, both of whom are regulars at the Garfield’s Live Playwright’s Society. Steve Arnold is the former director of Church Hill Theatre. The others are all by published playwrights, many of whom have numerous productions to their credit.

As usual with SAST, the sets are flexible and minimal – a couple of chairs and a table, a doorway, other items as appropriate to the skit being performed. The costumes, on the other hand, are more elaborate, from a superhero’s cape to a prince’s regalia, a bridal gown or even a floppy-eared cap for a canine character. But it’s the actors who make these plays work, and their performances, on the whole, deliver the goods. Especially considering how much local talent was already involved in competing productions at Church Hill Theatre and elsewhere during June, this is a solid turnout by the local theater community.  Do go.  You won’t regret it.  It’s a relaxing and fun evening of laughs.

Short Attention Span Theatre is running for two more weekends through July 7, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $15 for general audiences, $5 for students. Note that some of the plays may not be suitable for children under age 13.

Bradley Chaires (on floor) and Lyle Pinder (standing) in “Don Vito’s Method” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Dan Guidice as Peter and Brianna Johnson as Shell in “The Superhero”  — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Phebe Wood and Ian Ellison as princess and prince in “Power Nap.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Ian Ellison and Bradley Chaires in “Power Nap”. — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Diane Landskroener and Jim Landskroener as Elise and Walter in “Mistranslation — Photo by Steve Atkinson

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