The well-known Hollywood (or NYC) actors who come to Kansas City to perform in New Theatre Restaurant shows nearly always wow their starstruck fans with topnotch performances, but they are often not the lead performers, and may not spend that many minutes emoting onstage. However, Gary Sandy, who appears in the current production, Out of Order, is not mere window dressing for this hilarious outing. There’s rarely a moment when he’s not onstage lending his considerable charm and acting chops to this first-class farce.
The show’s program states “the setting is an upscale hotel suite in Washington, D.C.,” and the entire performance takes place in this suite, with many comings and goings of the cast members–through the front door, another door leading to a bedroom (so characters can make costume changes), a closet (convenient for hiding dead bodies), and a window leading to a balcony. The program goes on to say, “The action is continuous”–and continuous, it is! There is never a dull moment in this show, so audience members would be wise to finish their meals before the opening act, or they may be too busy laughing or wiping tears of mirth from their faces to nibble on another buttery green bean.
The story begins with Gary Sandy (playing a philandering Senator) getting ready to hop into bed with a vivacious young secretary (played with great aplomb by Emily Rogers) from the other party. Both are married to other people, who (of course) show up to complicate matters. Jennifer Mays capably plays the Senator’s somewhat clueless wife, and Ben Marten has an especially strong stage presence as the secretary’s jealous husband, who vows to kill whomever is with his wife.
Craig Benton always turns in a sterling performance, and his rendering of the role of the Senator’s hapless aide (who is not only a mama’s boy, but prone to panic attacks) is one of his most riveting ones yet. His reactions to the Senator’s shenanigans are one of absolute comic genius.
James Wright is very believable as the totally confused (and, eventually, irate) hotel manager. Alan Tilson plays the dimwitted hotel bellman as if he were born to the role. His deadpan delivery of his lines, usually ending up with his hand held out for yet another tip to ensure his silence, elicit huge guffaws. He plays up to the audience, sashaying around in odd costumes, and never batting an eye when encountering all kinds of mayhem in the Senator’s hotel room, as long as his palm is kept well-greased. Leah Swank-Miller (as a sexy nurse) isn’t given much to do until the end of the show, when she dazzles with her romantic charms.
Jason Miller turns in perhaps one of the funniest slapstick routines ever in his role as “The Body.” Even though he is supposed to be dead, he manages to convey wry humor as he lolls about on the sofa in goofy disguises, while the Senator explains to everyone that he’s just had too much to drink at a wedding earlier that day, and isn’t feeling very well.
Gary Sandy (best known for his starring role in WKRP in Cincinnati) is absolutely perfect as the slick talking, quick-on-his-feet Senator, who has a convoluted answer for everything, especially when it involves blaming others (mainly his aide) for his own misdeeds. And dedicated fans will be pleased to know that Andy Travis is still a hunk!
The other actors complement him beautifully. This ensemble works so well together that I’d love to see them all perform in something else down the road.
The opening act at all New Theatre shows is, of course, the dinner, and it never disappoints. Deep-fried basa fish (very light and mild and served with a malt vinegar aioli), flat iron beef, buttermilk fried chicken, BBQ Salmon, and slow-smoked burnt ends are the entrees. (The mild barbecue sauce served with the burnt ends is superb.) Accompaniments include the aforementioned green beans, glazed baby carrots, a Sicilian vegetable medley, grilled tomato penne, polenta, and roasted garlic mashers. (If the chefs at New Theatre ever discontinued those signature mashed potatoes, they’d most likely have a mutiny on their hands!)
With the holidays winding down, and winter still in full swing, there’s no better time to escape the blahs by booking tickets for New Theatre’s Out of Order. If this madcap comedy doesn’t tickle your funny bone, then your sense of humor is deader than The Body in this show.
Out of Order runs through February 14, 2016 at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. Call 913-649-7469 or go to newtheatre.com.