We all know that things get hectic in the Iowa Great Lakes Region around the Fourth of July holiday. "No Vacancies" takes that to a new level.
The Okoboji Summer Theatre play this week is a local adaptation of the script by David Schwartz. The setting is the Okoboji Rose, an inn in Arnolds Park. The year is 1978.
Okoboji Rose is a mom and pop establishment inherited by Fritz. It had not been updated and maintenance unheard of so you can imagine the problems that can arise. The closet doors stick shut, the air conditioner is off more than on, etc.
Kudos to Leslie Goldin. She is the Stephens College student who designed the set. Her eye for detail was evident in the old OST posters, pictures of the original Roof Garden, Lakes Area and Iowa Maps, etc. I don't know where they found that old air conditioner but I remember having one like that many, many years ago. The suitcases were of the vintage (no wheels) variety and the orange chair a classic.
Student costume designer Cheyenne Smith is quite talented. She managed to put poor Fritz into a patriotic Uncle Sam suit that was so tight, it appeared to be his second skin. It was bright, gaudy and totally funny. The nun outfit with bright red stripper attire beneath brought a huge laugh as well. I must add that David's briefs were the ugliest I have ever seen. I don't remember the manufacture and sale of such ugly men's underwear. Apparently I wasn't observant enough in 1978.
Bryn Boice is the artistic director at a theatrical company in Boston. She came to OST to direct a cast of two professional and six student actors. She succeeded as this production was hilarious and very well received by the larger-than-normal first night audience.
The play started out fairly slow and I was wondering how long a night it would be. Then the radiator went flying and we never caught our breath after that happened.
Husain Agha drew the role of Fritz. He is tall, lanky and funny; and in that Uncle Sam getup, unforgettable!
Hephzibah Eniade flounced back and forth across the stage in the role of Brunhilde. She told everyone she was from a different country each time she appeared. Her accent did make it difficult to understand her sometimes but she was humorous anyway.
Ashlynne Berkemeyer made a brief appearance as Mrs. Richter. Magdelne Johnson portrayed the 'tart' Jasmine. Her stripper-style dance moves caused much laughter from the audience. Briannica Ponder as Inga and Xandra Prestia-Turner as Debra were great in their roles as the wives. Their British accents were believable too.
I was delighted to see Herbert Moore in a stage role. He is the facilities manager and lighting supervisor at OST but his acting skills are strong. He was hilarious! Moore jiggled and shook with such enthusiasm as Paul that I felt exhaustion coming on just watching his antics.
Bravo to Kyle Groff! He did a super fantastic job in the role of David. His nerdy innocence in the beginning soon gave way to a new inner self. Paul became a player and was extremely funny. They all ran, jumped into beds and chased around with such vigor that we were all tired by the end of the show ... cast and audience.
For local flavor they had Steve Schwaller at KUOO record a typical news bite to be used in the show. A true professional, Schwaller was perfect. Way to go Schwally!
I give the cast credit for thinking on their feet. A piece of the crown molding fell down as a couple was "cavorting" on the bed. Luckily it did not harm either one although it shocked them. True to their profession (the show must go on), they gathered their wits about them opened the window and tossed the eight foot long piece out. The audience laughingly gave them a huge round of applause for thinking so well on their feet. Then the play continued as if nothing untold had occurred. I can still play that scene over and over in my mind and thank the lucky stars there were no injuries.
"No Vacancies" is interesting, fast-paced (be patient during the slow start) and hilarious. It is a perfect event to enjoy during the Fourth of July. After all, that is what the play is about and we have all grown to love everything about Independence Day in the Iowa Great Lakes Region.
The play runs through Sunday night with no performance on July 4. After all, they want to see the fireworks too!