Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Last Romance, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre

(Don Edelman and Mary Jane Nottage)

If the idea of a play involving two oldsters who meet cute in a dog park sets off your “cloying alert” alarm, you’re not alone. 

But this play at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre features some genuinely funny lines and benefits from delightful performances by two longtime Cleveland acting pros. 

Mary Jane Nottage plays the 70-something stylish Carol who is hit on by rumpled octogenarian Ralph, played by CVLT fixture Don Edelman. And although the first act seems overly long, playwright Joe DiPietro studs it with a number of surefire jokes (“Ralph is quite a catch, he can still drive at night!” says his sister Rose at one point). 

The arc of Ralph and Carol’s relationship is not entirely predictable, which is an unexpected treat. But the real joy is watching these two performers do their thing. Nottage is continually engaging as Carol, a woman who is dealing with an ill husband and, now, a rather seriously wrinkled admirer. 

And while Edelman may inventively recreate some of his dialog as the opera-loving Ralph, he’s so experienced on stage that you rarely see any blips. Plus, his comic timing, like Nottage’s, is spot on. 

They are supported by a solid Margo Parker as Rose and Andrew Kondik, who gamely sings some interstitial snatches of arias as the younger Ralph. 

Although there are some static stretches in the blocking, first time director Cindee Catalano-Edelman allows Nottage and Edelman the room to find their own beats and tempos. And that is a pleasure to watch.

The Last Romance

Through May 10 at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre’s River Street Playhouse, 56 River Street, Chagrin Falls, 440-247-8955.

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