Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's entertaining new comedy, "Spreading It Around," is as inviting and lovely as its gorgeous set.|
Designed by Circa veteran Susan Holgersson, the elegantly appointed living room with peach-colored walls is dominated by five arches and large picture windows overlooking a golf-course backdrop. It's so tastefully decorated, spacious and warmly lit, I want to live there myself. It wouldn't even have to be in Florida!
Starring a perky and determined Lora Adams as Angie, and lovingly directed by Seth Reines, "Spreading It Around" is about a wealthy Florida widow who tires of handing out money to her neglectful and unappreciative children, and sets up a foundation to give her assets to people truly in need.
"Money is like manure," Angie says. "It's not worth anything unless you're spreading it around."
We're in the familiar land of the sitcom, with broadly drawn, colorful characters. The main couple -- Angie and her next-door neighbor and handyman Martin (Rob Summers) -- are in their golden years, but thankfully, they're not physically impaired, forgetful, doddering, or laboring under other common maladies of old age. But they do have the awful curse of being widowed; for Martin, it's harder than for Angie.
He lost his best friend, and other widows in the retirement community are trying to get their hooks into him, but not Angie. She's not looking for a man, saying she doesn't need one to make her life complete.
She didn't have a happy marriage, so she doesn't see much of a difference living on her own. Her husband was never around; she learned how to do everything without him. "I was a widow the entire time I was married," Angie says, noting her husband died three weeks after they moved to Florida. "Sometimes, I think he did that to avoid having a conversation," she says.
Angie gets the idea of setting up a foundation to give away her money after getting a note of thanks from a busboy; she helped pay for his sister's operation. This is the opportunity she's been looking for to truly help people in need.
Their foundation is called "S.I.N." (Spending It Now), and its slogan is: "Seniors doing it together while we still can." Martin and Angie also revel in time they're spending together. Ms. Adams (who unnecessarily sports a cutesy, high-pitched voice) and Mr. Summers display an unforced, genial chemistry, intelligence and genuine friendship.
The selfish, materialistic Larry (Angie's son, played by Steve Lasiter) and his insensitive, shopaholic wife Traci (Liz J. Millea) arrive unannounced with plans to renovate Angie's house and cash in with her money. They wonder where his mother's money is going and snoop around the house. Why doesn't Martin hear them until several minutes have elapsed?
At first, Larry and Traci think Angie might be involved with a man, given the S.I.N. name, labeling it a "kinky pensioners' sex cult." Larry is shocked, saying his mom won't even ask for a "three-way light bulb because it sounds vaguely obscene."
Early in the second act, it's hard to believe when they say it looks like a hurricane hit the house. Larry and Traci can't believe how selfless Martin and Angie are (shocking!), a "bunch of demented do-gooders." Do people really act like these obnoxious kids? In madcap plays or sitcoms, yes. Traci is panicked, yelling at Larry to do something, seeing her self-entitled future slipping out to sea.
Larry brings in a psychiatrist, Dr. Montgomery Ward (given a briefly great and deadpan performance by Brad Hauskins), who poses as an old college buddy of his to have Angie declared mentally incapable of handling her money. More hilarity ensues as Angie pretends to act crazy, but Larry's scheme doesn't succeed.
The enthusiastic Mr. Lasiter and Ms. Millea are loads of fun to watch as they're driven batty by the supremely competent, superior-in-scheming Ms. Adams as Angie. If money really is like manure, their characters truly step in it, scramble and fall.
What could be considered a heartbreaking, familial tragedy for Angie puts a lump in our throats, and the next sunny chapter is revealed in a very satisfying, heartwarming conclusion.
The Circa Bootleggers sing a string of money-themed songs in their pre-show (except for Pink Floyd's "Money"). When a bit of "Money Makes the World Go 'Round" escapes, one of them cleverly stops to say they can't sing that now, since that tune is from "Cabaret," and will be included in the Bootleggers' own August revue, "And The World Goes 'Round," featuring the wonderful songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb.
If you go
-- What: "Spreading It Around."
-- When: Through June 9. 7:45 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 5:45 p.m. Sundays, matinees at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
-- Where: Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
-- Tickets: $48 (includes dinner and show), except Thursday preview, $34; matinee, $41; seniors, $2 off; 18 and younger, $28. Show-only tickets available. Call (309) 786-7733, ext. 2, or go to circa21.com.
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