What do you get when you cross the potty-humor and 1960s culture of “Austin Powers” with a classic French play from 1673? You get Oded Gross and Tracy Young’s adaption of Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid,” presented in association with the Civic Theatre and playing at The Parish Theatre.
A father and his daughter are discussing the terms of the daughter’s love. She met a man and instantly fell in love with him, and the father has been asked for her hand in marriage by, presumably, the same man. The daughter is excited about the prospect of marriage until it is revealed that they are not talking about the same man at all.
Ben Zylman stars as a wealthy hypochondriac named Argan, who is being taken care of by his servant Toinette (Kelly Dominique) and her brother Guy (Keith Erik Brown). Also living in the house are Argan’s wife of six months, Beline (Janet Gover), and his two daughters, Angelique (Carrie Phillips) and Louison (Kelly White). Argan’s brother Beralde (Lars J. Loofboro) visits, as do Argan’s lawyer, Monsieur de Bonnefoi (Paul Kriner), Argan’s doctor, Dr. Purgon (Adam Carey), Dr. Pugon’s assistant, Madame Fleurant (Lisa Grace), and Dr. Purgon’s minions (Sydney Alexander and Carrie A. Bertch). Angelique’s lover Cleante (AJ Sharief) comes over just before Angelique’s fiancé, Thomas Diafoirus (Tony Holewinski) and his father, Monsieur Diafoirus (Mark Doster).
This crazy ride of a musical plays out in a single day at Argan’s home in Paris in 1969. But while the show is a musical, its roots as a play are evident: Act I only has three songs. The cast consistently shows off how well they can hold their own without the music by keeping the show fun and exciting. The music does pick up in Act II, however. The fourth wall gets broken a lot, but for how wacky “The Imaginary Invalid” is, the choice works perfectly.
Barbara B. Moelaart oversees costumes, hair and makeup, all of which are executive perfectly. The 1960s styles were shown throughout the show, and each character had their own specific style that had an over-the-top 1960s feel to them. Adding to the 1960s feel was a splendid set done by David Kyhn. With lots of lava lamps and fuzzy pink chairs, there is no confusion that this is not the original Moliere show.
The music was fantastic as well. Musical Director Melissa Sparks keeps the melodies going with aplomb, and the cast did a terrific job of singing and creating vocal harmonies. What’s great about the music is that each character gets his a personalized entrance fanfare. The lighting, done by Sean Michael Smallman, was amazing, with soft lights for a dream sequence and lightning effects at times to enhance the ‘60s ambiance.
Overall, “The Imaginary Invalid” is a quirky, retro and just plain fun comedy. Tickets can be purchased at the Parish Theatre box office, online at www.kazoocivic.com/box_office.shtml or over the phone at 269-343-1313. The show will run tomorrow (Oct. 20) and Oct. 26-27 at 8 p.m., as well as this sunday (Oct. 21) for a 2 p.m. matinee.