Directed by Bert Cayer, Jr.
Reviewed by Don Gillis, May 2, 2003
Neil Simon has made a funny play from the Book of Job--transferring the scene to a Long Island mansion, where dwells a pious, God-fearing tycoon (Richard Concannon) and his family: a long-suffering wife (Mary Concannon), a prodigal son( Matt King) and a pair of kooky twins (Sean Jo. Arcand & Andrea Grondines) and two servants (Sharon L. Harmon & Stanley Eason). One night a messenger from God (Mark Anderson) (with a big G on his sweatshirt) arrives, and, as in the original story, goes through all manner of temptations to renounce God. When he refuses, he is visited by all the afflictions imaginable. He stands firm and the messenger has to admit defeat.
Director, Bert Cayer has a dream cast. Richard Concannon as Joe Benjamin, the God-fearing tycoon, is absolutely wonderful. He is on stage the entire show with line after line which he delivers so aptly. He excelled in all aspects of this production. Richard has 79 pages of script in an 82 page script. That's a HUGE amount of dialogue but Richard gives a solid performance. After the show, I spoke with him briefly and he said he was exhausted - I don't doubt it!. He is the one you will be watching mostly because of the way Simon wrote this play, but along comes a messenger, Sidney Lipton played by Mark Anderson.
Mark will have you in hysterics with his one-liners and kooky personality. His clothes are worn and drab, and he wears triple bi-focal glasses and a funny hat and coat. He actually looks like a bum from Central Park. Mark delivers an outstanding performance with a wonderful portral of Sidney. He was also responsible for the very cleverly designed set. The house burns down in the second act......it's clever how Mark designed the set to make it looked liked charred wood. Together, these two men steal every scene. As always, Mark and Richard give the audience 100%. This show however, in my opinion, definitely belongs to Richard Concannon.
Along with Joe Benjamin, we have his somewhat dysfunctional family. His suffering wife, Rose played by Mary Concannon has some great scenes as the somewhat befuddled and insecure wife oblivious to what is going on with her husband - until the house burns down - then... its reality time. Mary gives us a great scene in the second act when she takes a stand on her fate. Great performances were given by the "twins" Sarah and Ben played by Andrea Grondines (hmm... is this type casting or what?--she was a twin in "Forum"). Andrea, as Sarah, has some great fast paced dialogue in the opening minutes of the show, and delivers them quite nicely. A student at RIC studying theater, she is definitely on her way to her vocation. Her on stage twin brother Sean Jo. Arcand, a senior at North Smithfield High School is adding another show to his portfolio. Both students - budding careers!
One person you will not forget is the prodigal son played excellently by Matt King. He is the "smart" one in the family but he has a drinking problem. One of the funniest scenes is when his father is giving him a speech about his laziness and drunkenness, and he falls asleep on the couch during his father's speech. Matt played the role to the hilt and had the audience laughing at his antics. His scene at the end with the messenger is priceless.!
The servants Mady and Morris are so aptly played by Sharon L. Harmon and Stanley Eason. Together, these two light up the stage with their witty and poignant portrayals. Sharon ( a member of the RI Army National Guard) was especially funny in the prayer scene, and Stanley shines as the shivering servant. Both supporting roles done nicely!
God's Favorite is a sure fire winner of a show! This talented cast will delight you with two hours of laughter and merriment. Don't miss out - call for your reservation. On opening night the audience gave this cast a well deserved standing ovation.
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GOD'S FAVORITE (May 2 - May 17, 2003)
78 Earle Street
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