Is This Any Way to Start a Marriage? - Review

Playwright Carolanne Marano's book is smart, witty and sexy, and touted, 'as polished as a Neil Simon comedy. The play can't help being a bona fide hit.'  I was very anxious to see the return of this musical, playing at the Whitefire Theatre.

The play opens with Megan (Kelly Stables) and Michael (Eduardo Enrikez), two newlyweds fresh from the alter, stumbling through the dark streets of New York. The young couple is forced to walk to their expensive hotel when the bride's self-centered parents left, in the couples limo, and are mugged on the way to their hotel. This event inspires Megan (Stables) to propose the question "Is this anyway to start a marriage?" in a well sung musical number which sets the precedence for the further examination of this question throughout the production. 

In spite of their frustrations the newlyweds begin getting settled into their honeymoon suite when romance is interrupted by Giorgio (Daniel Bolero), the gay Columbian bellboy who immediately goes into a fantastically flamboyant song introducing himself, and the services he provides. Bolero's performance is outstanding and hilarious.

After this comical number by Bolero the couple tries to get back into the mood with a little king of the jungle role-play when they are caught in the act by the bride's parents who stopped in "just to say hi". In no time the parents; mother Barbara (Cheryl David) and wealthy, penny-pinching dad Lewis (Dan Spector) are doing what they do best; criticizing and complaining with their commanding performances.

It only gets worse for the couple, when the groom's parents, the convincingly, loveable drunk, Chuck (Kim Story) and un-approving mother Joanne (Austyn Wells) also feel the need to stop by. With good timing and robust delivery, Barbara (David) plays her role as the satirical, nosey, self-absorbed, Jewish mother-in-law to perfection, even though she's catholic.

Uncomfortable questions arise as emotions are mixed with alcohol and awkward moments to bring out previously unspoken doubts about the marriage. Is the young bride really pregnant? How can Michael, an out of work actor support a child and a wife.  Along the way, the secret is revealed about the groom's true paternity, resulting in a hot musical confession by Joanne (Wells). As the situation goes from bad to worse for the honeymooners, Michael's (Enrikez) high-spirited performance rises as his character develops, while under the scrutiny of both sets of parents.

The struggle escalates when a blackout occurs, causing the electronic doors to trap the squabbling family in the hotel suite along with Giorgio the bellboy. Conflicts resolve and family ties are strengthened as the frustrated newlyweds deal with this comical situation. Believe it or not, this may have been a way to start a marriage after-all.

With lighting designed by Derrick McDaniel and set design by Victoria Profitt, the marriage of this team created a worthy and effective backdrop to enhance the delightful and memorable performances.

Congratulations to Producer Laura Coker (Angry Amish Productions), who gathered a stellar cast for 'Is This Any Way To Start A Marriage' culminating in an amusing, energetic play examining the institution of marriage from the different perspectives of newlyweds, and the not so newlyweds.  Laura is also a company member of the Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre.

Director Bryan Rasmussen was at the helm.  A veteran of film, television and stage - Rasmussen does a superb job directing a marvelous cast.

Not critical of marriage but aware of the challenges couples face either with each other and the in laws. The memorable musical numbers by Wayland Pickard and Perry Lambert did well to enlighten the audience further in to what the characters were thinking, as well as change up the pace of the energetic production.  Additional Lyrics by Gina Zollmand and Sharon Weisman.  Conductor/Keyboard by Brian Murphy.  Production stills by Doug Engalla.

The entire team does a great job, but a particular stand out would be the performances of Daniel Bolero (Giorgio) and Cheryl David, who replaced the original person cast for 'Barbara' with only 1-weeks notice'   Although, I recommend the entire cast for their enthusiasm and energy.
IS THIS ANY WAY TO START MARRIAGE? Is extending through July 22nd, 2007. Performances are at The Whitefire Theatre at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $25 for Students and Seniors, $20 for groups of 10 (larger discounts for larger groups), and a special offer, $15 for newlyweds (with proof of marriage within 60 days of production).

For Discount tickets - Go to:
To make reservations call (323) 960-7745

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