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Light Up the Sky

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Over the years, the theatre has produced many plays about itself. Playwright Ken Ludwig seems to be making a career of it with Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo. Michael Frayn's Noises Off gave theatregoers a look at the chaos of rehearsals and of backstage shenanigans during a performance. Jeffrey Hatcher's The Compleat Female Stage Beauty showed the artifice of Shakespeare's era when men portrayed women onstage.

One of the earliest and funniest takes on the wacky world of theatre was written by an insider, playwright Moss Hart, and was first presented in 1948. Light Up the Sky is not set in a theatre but rather in its leading lady's hotel suite and takes place on the very rocky first night of an out-of-town tryout in Boston. The characters are all broadly theatrical and are probably as much fun to play as to watch. PCPA Theaterfest and director Roger DeLaurier have indeed "stuck a roman candle in the tired face of the American theatre" with this beautiful and hilariously funny revival. One just wants to move into and live forever on Dave Nofsinger's deluxe set, softly lit by Jennifer Zornow's lighting. Judith A. Ryerson's luscious period costumes are haute couture.

The acting company is splendid from the leading players down to the bit parts of the nosy, celebrating Shriners. Jack Greenman dominates the proceedings as lowbrow moneyman Sidney Black, who is attempting to break into the highbrow ranks with his first theatrical production. He is matched in histrionics by Kathleen Mulligan as the grand dame actress Irene Livingston. Melinda Parrett as the jewel-bedecked ice skating queen Francis and Sandra Ellis-Troy as stage mother Stella lend stellar comic support, as does David Studwell as quick-to-cry director Carleton Fitzgerald. Peter S. Hadres, Melody Stacy, Mark Booher, and David Nevell all have their moments although their roles are written to serve as "the voice of reason" in this theatrical madhouse.

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