Front row, from left, Oakfield Golf and Country Club manager, Mrs. Carlson (Chris Tracey) takes Wilson (Bill Henricks) to task as Tina (Tracy Borgatti) watches. Back row, from left, Laura Baker (Gail Scott) listens to husband John’s (Kevin Bangos) explanation while his boss D.L. Hutchinson (Barbara Anthony) tries to keep them all, including David McGachen (Toby Manion) and his wife, Karly (Patricia Coates), one big happy family in the Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s production of “Whose Wives Are They Anyway?”
Crossed phone lines and cross-dressing buffoonery produced continuous laughs, as evidenced by the full-house audience’s giggles and guffaws, chuckles and chortles, shrieks and snickers at a recent Early Bird Dinner Theatre performance of “Whose Wives Are They Anyway?” by Michael Parker.
Shortly after John Baker (Kevin Bangos) and David McGachen (Toby Manion), vice-presidents of the just-sold Ashley Maureen Cosmetic Company, arrive at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club for a weekend of nonstop golfing, they discover their new boss, D.L. Hutchinson (Barbara Anthony), is also there.
“No one who went golfing for a weekend without his wife would ever work for me,” Hutchinson declares, adding she’ll look forward to meeting Baker’s and McGachen’s wives that evening.
The wives, however, have gone off to New York for a weekend of nonstop shopping. There’s nothing to do but have Baker – in wig and dress – pretend to be McGachen’s wife and bribe Tina, the resort’s receptionist (Tracy Borgatti), to portray Baker’s wife.
Adding to the confusion, the resort’s phone lines are crossed, resulting in calls from people trying to place bets on Golden Girl in the fifth which the resort’s manager, Mrs. Carlson (Chris Tracey), doesn’t find at all amusing. Nor does she sympathize with the various excuses from lumbago to carbuncles her maintenance man, Wilson (Bill Henricks) proffers – along with an upturned palm – when he’s put to work.
As is par for a Michael Parker play, the real wives (Patricia Coates and Gail Scott) show up at just the wrong moment resulting in even more misunderstanding.
Farce such as this is Early BIrd’s specialty and the cast – many of them regulars – have their double entendre timing down to a tee. Bangos slipped into and out of various costumes and personas with ease – one of his better performances – and his pairing with Manion, shades of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, worked well with Anthony’s drive.
Tracey’s exaggerated physical humor and Henricks’ bumbling “I can’t believe it!” tickled the audience, which included a large group from Zephyrhills and the Sass with Class chapter of Red Hat Ladies from Largo. Borgatti bubbled, Coates connived, and Scott sobbed through their respective parts.
Early Bird has offered a buffet meal and a professional show for 16 years in its location across from Bill Irle Restaurant. Director Robin New announced before the performance that the theater will be moving to a new location in June.
“But we don’t have a place yet. So if you have a really big house and you like to cook, call our reservation line and leave a message,” New said.
“Whose Wives Are They Anyway?” plays through Sunday, April 23, at the Early Bird Dinner Theatre, 1411 N. Fort Harrison Ave. in Clearwater. Dinner seatings are Thursday through Sunday at 4 p.m. with 11 a.m. matinees on Thursday and Saturday. Call 446-5898 for reservations. The buffet includes six hot entrees, various side dishes and salads, dessert, and beverage; a cash bar is available. The price is $14.95 plus tax ($16 total); no credit cards or checks.