Comedy reigns in new TBT farce

Thunder Bay Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Reams contends that in any good farce the number of slamming doors should out-number the size of the cast. Mission accomplished with Thursday’s opening of the new hit comedy, “Unnecessary Farce,” in which two cops, three crooks, eight doors and a seemingly clueless mayor with a confused wife bring on the chaos and the laughter.

“It’s a really funny show,” said Reams, comparing it to last fall’s farce, “Boeing, Boeing,” but with the comedy and the number of doors kicked up a notch.

Core company member Nickie Hilton said finding enough doors to fit the bill proved challenging until the production team temporarily rounded up a couple of extra ones from their upstairs living quarters at TBT. Besides handling the props for the show, Hilton appears as bumbling, inept rookie cop Officer Billie Dwyer.

All the hilarity of “Unnecessary Farce” is set in a cheap motel room where an embezzling mayor is supposed to meet with his female accountant. Next door, two undercover cops (Hilton’s clueless character among them) wait to catch the meeting on videotape, but there’s some confusion as to who’s in which room, who’s being videotaped, who’s taken money, who’s hired a hit man and why the accountant keeps taking off her clothes.

“It’s a laugh a minute. Practically every other line something funny is happening,” said actor Nick Hartman. He plays a scary Scottish hitman for which he had to learn a Scottish brogue and gets to wear a goofy Scottish costume.

For Reams, the show is his first time to work with well-known local performers David Usher and Julie Meyers.

“I’m happy to be working with David and Julie. They’re great,” Reams said. “And the rest of the cast is the core company.”

Both Usher and Meyers also appear frequently on the Alpena Civic Theatre stage. Reams expressed satisfaction over the good working relationship that now exists between the two theaters, and which resulted in scheduling shows this season at both facilities around one other so that run dates don’t conflict.

“We designed our season specifically so it wouldn’t overlap,” Reams said. “With the exception of two or three weeks, you could see a show at either theatre every weekend of the season.”

For TBT’s latest theater offering, Usher and Meyers play the mayor and his wife. Others cast in the show include Puja Tolton as the accountant, Curtis Brown as Officer Eric Sheridan and Colin Marshall as Agent Frank, head of Town Hall Security.

“Unnecessary Farce” was written by Paul Slade Smith, an actor who appeared in national touring companies of “Wicked” and “Phantom of the Opera.” His show premiered in October 2006 at the BoarsHead Theatre in Lansing and has since had over 100 productions. Since 2008, it has been published by Playscripts, Inc., and according to Reams is among the top scripts sought after by regional theaters like TBT.

Show dates are March 27-30 and April 3-6 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the TBT box office at 354-2267.