From left, Stephen Biddle (Ian MacCullum) watches Dolly (Jennifer Sloane) sample some liquid ingredients on the set of “The Kitchen Witches” before taking another shot at rival cook Isobel (Midge Mamatas).
CLEARWATER – Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s production of “The Kitchen Witches,” by Caroline Smith, runs through Sunday, Sept. 5, at the Italian-American Club, 200 S. McMullen-Booth Road.
Early Bird kicks off its season with a production of this popular comedy about two rival cooking show hostesses.
When circumstances force the culinary contenders to share the spotlight, Dolly Biddle and Isobel Lomax are forced to deal with troubles that have been stewing for years. On the set of their joint cable show, “The Kitchen Witches,” dissention simmers as the two battle over relationships and recipes. The side dishes include uproarious insults, innuendo and insolence.
Sitting on the sidelines and occasionally catching strafe from the relentless skirmishes are Dolly’s son, Stephen Biddle, the show’s producer; and Dawn, the camera operator.
Jennifer Sloane plays Biddle, whose canceled “Baking with Babcha” program was served with a fake accent. Sloane shifts seamlessly from bitter adversary to nagging mother. Sloane’s comedic instincts are keen: She knows how to make an audience laugh and she knows how and when to accentuate certain lines, expressions and gestures to protract the laughter.
Midge Mamatas isn’t shy about borrowing heavily from Martha Stewart to define her portrayal of Lomax. From her mannerisms to her appearance, Mamatas picks only the most refined ingredients to cultivate her humorously high-and-mighty character.
Ian MacCallum does a fine job playing the besieged producer. As the play progresses, MacCallum’s posture seems to sink as his character’s compounding burdens weigh him down. In a play clearly designed to showcase the two female leads, MacCallum delivers a terrific performance.
Likewise, Barbara Anthony stands out as the seemingly speechless Dawn.
Anthony, an Early Bird veteran who frequently gets the lion’s share of lines, gets to have some real fun this time keeping her lips sealed for most of the play. She gets plenty of laughs, though – particularly when she’s encouraging the audience (which doubles as the television program’s studio audience) to applaud.
Directed by Robin New, Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s production of “The Kitchen Witches” serves up plenty of laughter and fun. A tasty appetizer for the new season, the show will be followed by a string of comedies including “Lovers and Other Strangers,” “How the Other Half Loves,” “The Dixie Swim Club,” “Sex Please, We’re Sixty” and “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”
Seatings for performances are Thursday through Sunday, 4 p.m. Seating for matinees are Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. Cost for buffet and show is $29.90 plus tax. For reservations, call 446-5898 or visit www.earlybirddinnertheatre.com.