The egos of two highly competitive divas make it impossible for Mr. Dunlap, the hotel manager, to control a situation that quickly spirals into a wild and wickedly funny chaos in Michael McKeever’s “Suite Surrender.” Claudia McFadden demands top billing in a USO fund-raiser for WWII military. She also insists that white roses fill her hotel suite. Most importantly, she wants management to keep her archrival Athena Sinclair as far away from her as possible.
Dunlap has arranged for the two divas to be at opposite ends of the hotel. He is confident that they will not bump into each other. However, like every good farce, things definitely don’t go as planned. Thanks to one lovesick bellhop and one star-struck bellhop, the two divas accidentally end up in the same suite.
This means the white roses come and go as quickly as Athena’s self photos. A nosey news hungry reporter keeps getting hit by the mandatory farcical doors and patron of the arts Mrs. Osgood always arrives just in time to add to the confusion. Diva assistants Pippet and Murphy as well as McFadden’s dog punctuate the fast-paced, non-stop action director Marilyn Olsen has achieved.
Deborah Carlson, appearing courtesy of Actors Equity and it shows, and Suzanne Powers as the delightful divas not only perform well, but end up singing a duet that crown their diva status. John Bachelder plays the harried manager to perfection as he transforms from detail-oriented, well-organized and confident manager to completely frazzled and out of control hotel manager. His vocal and facial expressions speak volumes.
Brian DeToma as Pippet is a natural born comic. His every move and gesture hits the laugh out loud bull’s-eye. So too, Rigby Wilkins who hides her face in her hands and announces that she is not there. Her performance is nothing short of inspired due to her innocent looking expressions. Elayne Gordon as the wealthy Mrs. Osgood has excellent timing and Ashley Brundage and Sam Bass as lovers are quite good. Completing this fun-filled comic cast is the performance of Monica M. O’Brien as Dora the reporter.
Overall, this production is a fine way to spend an evening. Any opportunity to laugh these days is a good thing. And there’s plenty of laughter here. Even after a slow start, this show lifts off and flies high right through the surprise ending. Andrew Okell’s set is a bit tacky for what is supposed to be a posh hotel, but what the set lacks, the costumes designed by Lizzie Varda make up for it. From the skin-tight outfit for Murphy to the gorgeous gowns of the divas, the costumes continually hit the mark.
David Jurman’s lighting and Lou Okell’s sound design are important to the production and are spot on. This production plays through Nov. 17. Box office: 203-775-0023.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]