Comedic ‘Buffalo’ sets high standard

In this popular Ken Ludwig slamming-doors farce, a struggling theater in 1950s Buffalo is assured of ruin as circumstances bring the marriage of lead actors — and past stars of stage and screen — George and Charlotte Hay (Lee McCarty and Chris Vetters) to the breaking point.

Their daughter, Roz (Sydera Theobald), plans to leave the stage for good to marry TV weatherman Howard (Corey Yeaman), bad news for young actor Paul (Patrick Gawrys-Strand), as it means he loses both a girlfriend and costar. Young actress Eileen (Amy Studabaker) is pregnant with George’s “one small mistake.”

The Hays’ lawyer, Richard (Steve Kemp), is ready to sweep unhappy Charlotte off her feet. And Charlotte’s mother, Ethel (Janet Hodson), is fixing up everything backstage while keeping her hearing aid conveniently turned off.

Into this chaos comes news that famed movie director Frank Capra is coming to Buffalo in desperate need to re-cast his latest film with roles perfect for George and Charlotte. This would solve everything, except that George has already decided to drink himself to death.

And once the others get him on stage, were they going to perform a swashbuckling “Cyrano de Bergerac” or the sophisticated wit of “Private Lives?”

Ludwig’s script is rife with manic situations, frequent entrances and exits, wild misunderstandings and physical hijinks that have audiences rolling in their seats, and this cast has these elements down.

As the play’s two-week run was about to start, there was hardly a missed word or misstep to fix for the weekend patrons. The chemistry between McCarty and Vetters is convincing, as well as the sparks between Theobald and Gawrys-Strand. Yeaman’s tongue-tied meteorologist is a less-confident version of the goof he played so well in CrazyLake’s “The Nerd” and supplies one of the show’s biggest laughs during the climactic “matinee” scene. Even when you see a gag coming, it’s even wilder when it hits than you’d expect.

The play’s only weak point was the opening scene, an awkward look at the Buffalo company’s rehearsal. After that, it gets much better.

One hopes not to jinx a show with too much praise, but it was plain to see that these actors put in the time to mesh as a unit and provide as good and funny a show as can be done in volunteer community theater — which in the busy Central Indiana stage scene is a fairly high standard.

“Moon Over Buffalo” plays 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main St. in Greenfield. $10 tickets are available at or at the door for $12. Call 477-2787 for more information.

John Belden is former arts editor of the Daily Reporter. He lives in Irvington. You can reach him at