HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s charming, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s debonair, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sophisticated, and when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a problem, you better call Psmith Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ronald Eustace Psmith (Ã¢â‚¬Å“the P is silent, like pterodactylÃ¢â‚¬Â). You could feel the fun GoddardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Music and Drama Club (MAD) Treasurer Randy Barth had in the role as that debonair fixer, created by British author P.G. Wodehouse (15 October 1881 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 14 October 1975). Director Jon Gardner, Costume Designers Millie Tansill and Suzanne Smith and Props Designer Lynne Slater helped make Leave It to Psmith a cozy evening of comedy most British.
The delight of the show was the many witticisms thrown about by Psmith: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I detect a mild annoyance in your reply,Ã¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“[you have] an unfortunate personal appearanceÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“[your reply had] a nasty, hollow clang.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Taking place in the fictional Blandings Castle, the centerpiece of the plot was a coveted, simple macguffin: a necklace that belonged to ditzy and shady Freddie BoshamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stepmother, Lady Middlewick. From there, as he worked on FreddieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s behalf, Psmith hatched a Tom Sawyer-worthy scheme Ã¢â‚¬â€œ something to do with a Ã‚Â£5,000 British pound check and Freddie becoming a partner in a company so he can marry the girl he adored, Phyllis Jackson. To help pull this off, Psmith impersonated a Canadian poet, Ralston McTodd. With two low-level crooks throw in, it was hard to tell who was an accomplice to whom.
The show sported a sizeable number of props, from umbrellas to potted plants to guns; Slater did an amazing job with said props. Along with Malumuth, Slater provided impressive set decoration. MalumuthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s set design included a cleverly made subway platform. The always spot-on Steve Beitzell provided sound effects such as rain.
Top hats and tails for men and lavish dresses for women Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1920s style Ã¢â‚¬â€œ added a touch of elegance to the show; costume Designers Tansill and Smith earned their proverbial paychecks. I loved the moonlight provided by Lighting Designer Jodi Vezzetti (recently involved in Perfect Arrangement). The choreography of Katrina Jackson had several on-stage couples putting on the ritz in a dancing/party scene at the top of Act 2.
Jeff Pattison was British-as-hell as Lord Middlewick, a goofy character good for mostly losing his glasses. Pattison affected an on-the-nose accent throughout his performance. I liked how John McCloskey, seen last spring in MADÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Weird Romance, created a strong impression from his role of a butler named Bellows.
James Olsen made Freddie Bosham fast-talking and a bit of a con man. I liked Laura Hope ShapiroÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interplay with Olsen, as Freddie BoshamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fiancÃƒÂ©e Phyllis Jackson.
Sarah Nechamen and David Buckingham played the sketchy Aileen Peavey and Eddie Cootes, in a comically seedy manner.
Courtney Ritz excelled as Lady Middlewick and MADÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Beauty and the Beast veterans Eve and Nathan Sanders played Agatha Crofton/Gladys Rumbelow and Christopher Walderick respectively. George Tansill hilariously played the Ã¢â‚¬Å“realÃ¢â‚¬Â poet Ralston McTodd.
There was a pre-show cabaret that featured the vocals of Kathy Nieman, Shawn Perry, Richard Richardson and Angie Russo. Breon played piano and Tony Miller, guitar. Some of the songs featured were Ã¢â‚¬Å“Look for the Silver LiningÃ¢â‚¬Â, sang by Nieman; Ã¢â‚¬Å“April ShowersÃ¢â‚¬Â, sang by bass-baritone Perry; and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Someone to Watch Over MeÃ¢â‚¬Â by Russo.
Director Gardner wrote of his show: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦our play is a labor of love as a group of people work together to create living art.Ã¢â‚¬Â The show had a playful spirit and was great fun, but there were a few problems. The acoustics were uneven in places, and some actors needed to project more. I would have preferred to see doors in lieu of curtains, stage right and left. Some of the British accents came and went Ã¢â‚¬â€œ some werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there at all.
Perhaps the recent Federal Government shutdown affected the production. As producers Alethia Young, Eliot Malumuth and Susan Breon wrote: Ã¢â‚¬Å“This year we added one more challenge: a 35-day government furloughÃ¢â‚¬Â¦we were locked out of Goddard, with no place to meet and, what was worse, no place to hold auditionsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦we werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even sure we would have a place to rehearse or put on the show.Ã¢â‚¬Â
MAD has produced a witty and enjoyable show. This play piqued my interest in the world of P.G. Wodehouse. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s certain to pick up increasing audience members via word of mouth throughout its run.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with two intermissions.
Leave It to Psmith plays through April 6, 2019, at NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Music and Drama Club at the Barney & Bea Recreation Center Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 9998 Good Luck Road, Glenn Dale, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 301-966-2MAD or go online.
Note: The entrance is an unmarked gate into Goddard Space Flight Center. You will see a guard in a car with its lights flashing.