And  many Laughs

L-R Troy Johnson, Drew Benjamin Jones,, Michelle Skinner, Fred Pitts, Betsy Kruse Craig, and Ray D'Ambrosio in Palo Alto Players  One Man Two Guvnors.
L-R Troy Johnson, Drew Benjamin Jones, Michelle Skinner, Fred Pitts, Betsy Kruse Craig, and Ray D'Ambrosio in Palo Alto Players  One Man Two Guvnors.

Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Palo Alto Players

PALO ALTO, CA -- RICHARD BEAN's  slapstick comedy ONE MAN Two Guvnors, with music by RICHARD BEAN and songs by GRANT OLDING, ended the Palo Alto Players  2018-2019  Season with laughter.

The story of the musical is based on CARLO  GOLDONI's farce,  Il Servitore di due Padroni, (The servant of two Masters) which  premiere in Italy in  l746 and was revised in l753.  The idea for Goldoni's commedia's name, came from the Spanish refrain, "Quien a dos Amos Sirve, a uno sirve y a otro engaña." which may be translated as he who tries to serve two people, serves one and fools the other," which was popular at the time, and may have given playwright GOLDONI ideas for a play with many characters and funny situations.

When writing his musical comedy, RICHARD BEAN  transposed  the action from Italy to  England, changed the names of the characters, and re-wrote the story as a farce, with musical interludes, under the name of   "ONE MAN, two guvnors." He kept most of the original characters, from La Commedia dell' arte, and used some of their slapstick vulgarity, and their silly antics (exaggerated movements) The result is that the nitwitted plot of  criminals, police, impersonations, mistaken personalities, exaggerated motions and double-meaning dialogue, keeps the audience laughing.

ONE MAN, two guvnors  has many characters. The  principal one is Francis, (DOUGH SANTANA, pictured below) a scheming man, who gets "accidentally" employed by two masters.


One of  his "masters"  is Rosco (KATIE O'BRYON CHAMPLIN) one in a set of twins, who cannot be called "identical" because his twin is Rachel (CHAMPLIN) a girl. Without his knowledge, however, Francis is actually working for Rachel, who is  dressed as a man, because she is impersonating Rosco her twin brother.  Francis' second "master" is  Stanley Stubbers,  (BRAD SATTERWHITE) that Francis works for using  the name Henshall. Stubbers is an upper class criminal, and Rachel's lover.

Other characters are Charlie Clench, "The Duck" ( RAY D'AMBROSIO) a retired gangster, in his fifties who still can take care of himself  but depends on his lawyer Harry Dangle (TROY JOHNSON) a crooked solicitor, dapper, and faintly sleazy.

Pauline (MICHELLE SKINNER) a young woman in her twenties, is Charlie's daughter. In a "deal with Rosco" many years ago, Charlie, her father, to avoid paying a debt, arranged her engagement with Rosco.  Yet to complicate matters,  the play opens, in Charlie's mansion with a group is celebrating the engagement of Pauline with Alan Dangle (DREW BANJAMIN JONES) Harry's son, who is highly emotional young man who wants to be an actor.

Also attending the engagement party is Dolly (BETSY KRUSE CRAIG) around thirty, who is  Charlie's bookkeeper.  She is a voluptuous, flirtatious single woman, who wiggles her hips and wishes that somebody could say to her something similar to what Alan said  to Pauline, when dropping on the floor on one knee, before  Pauline, held out his upturned closed, cupped hand towards her and told her in a loud dramatical tone: " Pauline, I give you my hand, Captive within my hand, is a bird. That bird is my heart."    We should add that in just a few minutes, Dolly is going to have her chance to be admired when Francis/Henshall, arrives to the party.

Another guest is Lloyd Boateng (FRED PITTS) he is a Jamaican man. An ex-con turned Pub owner and the Pubs chef.

From the scene of the party, we move to Lloyd's restaurant where we meet  Gareth, (BRYAN MORIARTY Pictured  below on the left in the photograph),  who as  the head waiter at The Cricketers' Arms, overseas the operations with a flick of his wrist.
And  Alfie (CHRIS MAHLER) a very old waiter, hard of hearing, nearly blind and described as "Cadaverous" BRYAN MORIARTYin the play, (pictured below on the right of the photograph) who, did a very realistic impersonation of his character on opening  night: mumbling his words, dropping things, crashing with people and  falling down on the floor several times. His was superb slapstick acting.
Directed by Artistic Director of Palo Alto Players, PATRICK KLEIN, "ONE MAN, two guvnors" played well as an slapstick comedy, yet never lost the reality of its plot.  We can say that every one of the actors, played his/her role in character.
Wonderful on that night were also the  musical intermissions,with songs by GRANT OLDING  played between the change of scenes and at intermission. The  SKIFFLE BAND with Drums played by BRIETTA GREGER, Bass by NATHAN HOWLAND, Keyboard by PAULINE SIMPSON and Guitar and Vocals by NICHOLAS MARTIN, DREW  WEBER enhanced the performance by keeping the people clapping and smiling. For the audience, it was a very happy night.

 "ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS" will play at the Lucie Stern Theater , 1305 Middlefield Road in Palo alto until June 30th. For information or to order tickets call (650) 329-0891 or go online to http://paplayers.org/.