Ring Round the Moon is a play I wasn’t familiar with, and I enjoyed it immensely with all the twists and turns of a rich versus poor cinderella-esque story that is anything but ordinary, and keeps you smiling and on your toes to see who ends up together. I feel it is best experienced without knowing too many details, but you are sure to embrace every character as the cast does an outstanding job portraying a group of some ordinary and other pretentious people who keep you laughing throughout.
The play opens as Mr. Hugo, played by Brian Mackey, the pretentious twin, bemoans the fact that his likeable twin Mr. Frederick, also played expertly by Mackey, is sleeping in the rhododendron bushes outside the ostentatious manor. As Hugo laments to Joshua the butler, played prim and properly by David McBean, he criticizes his brother’s antics and confidently says that “Being 10 minutes older taught me so much more about women.”
Other characters in the tale include Messerschmann, played by Lamb’s Players Theatre regular Manny Fernandes, who is wildly rich, but only eats noodles with no butter and salt, a point he emphasizes. He thinks he can buy his daughter Diana’s, played by Rachael Van Wormer, happiness. Diana is in love with Hugo but is engaged to Frederick because Hugo doesn’t appear to be the marrying kind. His secretary Patrice, played by Donny Gersonde, is having a not so secret affair with Lady India, his boss’ mistress, played by Siri Hafso. Siri plays the sultry femme fatale perfectly, especially as she weaves her spell over Patrice, even showing up in one scene wearing only a mink coat.
The wise and all-knowing Madame Desmortes, Deborah Gilmour Smyth, is a loveable, gossipy aunt in a wheelchair who is accompanied by her companion of 20 years Capulet, portrayed coquettishly by Cynthia Gerber. Madame takes great pride having her fingers in all of the love affairs that run through the story and relishes the drama and matchmaking. Romainville, played by John Rosen, is a butterfly net toting rich friend, with an uncanny flair for drama, who goes along with the farce to keep in the family’s good graces.
Isabelle, played by Joy Yvonne Jones, and her mother, portrayed by Yolanda Marie Franklin, come into the story as commoners who are hired through the trickery of Hugo who is trying to break up the engagement of Frederick and Diana. Isabelle is the belle of the ball in her fancy purple gown and begrudgingly plays her role in distracting Frederick. There is even talk of falling in the lake and a midnight pistol dual, but in the end that isn’t necessary as love and common sense prevail. Isabelle thinks she loves Hugo and that’s why she agrees to participate in the farce, but Madame helps her see that Frederick is really the one for her. Who ends up with who changes throughout the evening, especially with the conniving, scandal monger Hugo in charge.
Things get interesting when Messerschmann tries to buy Isabelle off and says, “I don’t like it when things don’t cost anything.” Even when he tries to become poor and go back to his Krakow tailor roots, he ends up twice as rich. In the end, when the group waits for Hugo to return, Frederick brings down the house when he pipes up “I knew he wouldn’t come.” A special shout out to Mackey who expertly navigates playing twins and left me wondering how he popped up so quickly as one or the other twin he was portraying. I even heard the lady next to me ask if there was two people playing the part.
You are sure to enjoy all the performances of the 13-member cast including the violin, ukulele and vocal selections by Angela Chatelain Avila. I adored the winter garden set design with the crisp black and white manor complete with a fountain and garden trellis that set the stage for this witty, romantic and charming show. Coincidentally, we sat next to Lamb’s Players Theatre Archivist John Pauter who has been in charge of their historical records since 1984. He shared, “I have always loved live theater and have seen almost every show since I started.” I’d say he is a lucky guy.
Lamb’s Players Theatre’s Chris Turner says that this show requires intensive rehearsals to get the perfect timing. “We feel the content and quality of the writing is amazing and we are proud that this is our third presentation of it.” They are pleased to have Joy Yvonne Jones, Justin Lang and David McBean, three amazing San Diego performers, debut in this production on the Lamb’s stage.
Ring Round the Moon first appeared in France in 1947 as “L’Invitation au Chateau” and was written by Christopher Fry. It was artfully directed by Robert Smyth and Deborah Gilmour Smyth, who also helped with the outstanding choreography, along with performers Donny Gersonde and Siri Hafso. Fight choreography was done by Jordan Miller. This highly entertaining play is here on a limited engagement through November 17. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lambsplayers.org, by phone at 619-437-6000 or at the box office, 1142 Orange Avenue. Ask about senior, military and under 35 club discounts. There’s not a bad seat in the house in this must-see production.