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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: Madcap Comedy ‘Not Now Darling’ at the Bickford in Morristown

Arnold Janie

The 2015-2016 season at the Bickford Theatre has opened with a very funny, and a bit bawdy, British comedy from the 1960's: Not Now, Darling. The play is by playwrights Ray Cooney and John Chapman and was first produced in England in 1967. A film version was released in 1973. Ray Cooney, per director Eric Hafen (also the Bickford's Artistic Director), is recognized as 'the Master of Farce.' His comedies include Run For Your Wife and Move Over, Mrs. Markham.

Not Now, Darling is set in an exclusive London fur salon, Bodley, Bodley and Crouch. The two Bodley's are husband and wife. Crouch is Arnold Crouch (played by Paul Whelihan top photo) the meek master designer of furs who is innocently swept up in the mayhem that runs totally beyond his control. Mrs. Maude Bodley (Andrea Prendamano) is away in the South of France on holiday as the play opens (OK...you realize she will return early at the most inopportune time). Husband Gilbert (David C. Neal) sees her absence as the perfect opportunity to advance his relationship with the beautiful Janie McMichael (Erin Beirnard top photo). In order to insure his success with her, he has concocted an elaborate scheme to give her a mink coat.

Harry Arnold Janie Why scheme? Because she is married AND the husband, Harry McMichael (Bob McKay photo left), is a mobster! Plus, how do you reward a budding mistress with such an expensive gift without raising suspicion?  Fans of farce, a la the Marx Brothers and Noises Off, will love the mad-cap confusion as the intricate plot unfolds with Crouch reluctantly at the center of the 'action.'  There is a full complement of mistaken identities, slamming doors, scantily clad women, suspicious wives, even flying garments... on the number nine bus (?). All nicely paced by director Eric Hafen.

To take you deeper into the clever plot with all the twists and turns would greatly diminish your enjoyment of this fast-paced funny farce.  Granted, most of the fun comes from seeing how those plot twists are executed. We will reveal only that Bodley never gets to bed his mistress.

The fine cast is led by Paul Whelihan (Pushcart Players artistic director)... perfect as Arnold Crouch... the hapless, reluctant participant in his partner's sexual adventure. David C. Neal, who impressed in his recent appearance at the Bickford's 'Social Security' with the glorious Noreen Farley as his mother-in-law, nicely provides the laughs as the scheming philanderer Gilbert Bodley. Bob Mackay is properly threatening as Harry McMichael. Erin Beirnard, as Janie McMichael Bodley's mercenary mistress, shows a fine talent for comedy even in all forms of undress. The balance of the cast are excellent: Judy Wilson as Miss Tipdale, Bodley's assistant; Anna Marie Sell as McMichael's secretary Sue Lawson; Andrea Prendamano as Maude Bodley; Ryan Genualdi as Charley Lawson; and Julia Salvo as the shop assistant, Miss Whittington.

Director Hafen's Creative Team includes: Production Stage Manager:  Yumi Matsuura; Scenic Designer:  Jonathan Wentz (excellent, impressive set); Costume Designer: Roxie Zeek; Lighting Designer:  Roman Klima; Properties Designer:  Danielle Pietrowski; and Sound Designer:  Matt Boyle.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio  October 3, 2015

This fun event is playing through October 18, 2015.

The remaining performances:
Thursday, 10/8 at 7:30 PM; Thursday 10/15 at 2 PM
Friday, 10/9, & 16 at 8 PM
Saturday, 10/10, & 17 at 8 PM
Sunday, 10/11, & 18 at 2 PM
Audio Described Performance available on Thursday, October 15 at 2 PM

Tickets: $45 General Public; $40 Seniors, Museum & Theatre Guild Members; $33 Groups (10+); $20 Students (under 18 or w/valid college ID).
Tickets may be purchased by phone at
(973) 971-3706, 289369-morris_museum or in person at the Bickford Theatre Box Office. The Bickford Theatre is an integral part of the Morris Museum, located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, and offers free parking and full accessibility. Box Office hours for phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm. Walk-up hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11:00am to 5:00pm. 

Photos: Courtesy of the Bickford

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