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Ruthless! at the Masquers

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By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 12 June 2005

Why on earth I was ever nominated to write theatre reviews is beyond me. I have never liked slapstick humour. Having seen the promo pictures of Ruthless!, I was ready to be irritated at the entire production, but I sat to watch the play regardless. Ruthless! written by Joal Paley with music by Marvin Laird, is directed by Tammara Plankers.

Yes, the story line is appalling; but once you’ve accepted its premise, the plot and characters thereafter steadily improve. It ceases to take patience to watch the stage. You will laugh. It becomes a very funny play. Moreover, the singing is out of this world. Breathtaking. If you like to hear people sing, and sing well, get tickets.

Judy Denmark (played by Shay Oglesby-Smith) begins as a middle-America, middlingly attractive, predictably dull mother. That she transforms into such a voluptuous and desirable woman is a tribute to her voice and skill.

Watching actors playing actors is endlessly fascinating. Especially when all the characters molt during their performances. Tina Denmark (played by Hannah Rose Kornfeld) is the irritating little girl who winds her way into our affection. The drama teacher (played by Jan Brown) seems a tedious character whose transformation moves from embarrassing to hilarious. The reporter adds a lovely touch. Tina’s rival (played by Michelle Pond) has some perfectly silly parts, beautifully played. The theatre critic (played by Judy Rae Whiting) is majestic and gorgeous throughout.

Sylvia St. Croix (played by John Blytt) has one of the best dying scenes I have ever seen (extending over many years of histrionic overacting both on and off stage). Although some of the others have pretty good displays of the genre, too.

Ruthless! has some screamingly funny moments. Moreover, you’ll love the singing.