‘Kitchen Witches’ tickles the ribs at the Ivoryton Playhouse

By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

If you like your comedy sunny side up, but extra light and frothy, you’ll get it served that way by the “The Kitchen Witches” at The Ivoryton Playhouse through November 18, 2012.


Here’s the basic recipe for the rib-tickling fun and laughter: take two ladies who are long-time rivals in the cooking show biz on local cable-access, which means smaller audiences than such big-timers as Rachael Ray, and add much bigger egos than today’s stew of front-page celebrities.


The Kitchen Witches, Izzy Lomax and Dolly Biddle, have been even bigger rivals for thirty years when it comes to Larry Biddle, who dated both in high school but married Dolly.


The stew thickens when the ladies are flung together by the fickle finger of food-show ratings. To add to this fateful recipe is Dolly’s long-suffering TV-producer son Stephen. He tries to keep from being roasted by the food divas, which leads to lots of physical comedy. Long-kept secrets serve to thicken the plot. The spicy mix leads to more laughs than women’s mud wrestling or the deliciously physical encounters and slice-and-dice dialog between the warring Carrington women, Joan Collins and Linda Evans, on “Dynasty.”


This light-as-a-fondue tale was written by Canadian-Scots Caroline Smith, winner of the 2005 Samuel French Canadian Playwrights Contest. It’s directed by Maggie Jennings who, earlier this season helmed Ivoryton’s “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” Dan Nischan’s set design is nicely conceived to give each actor space for the action-packed high jinks. The lighting design by Marcus Abbott creates the ideal atmosphere of a small-town, old-timey TV studio. LiseMarie Henry’s costumes add greatly to the establishment of each character, especially the glamorous and beautifully crafted outfits for the character of Izzy.


Izzy, as played by Beverley Taylor, stole the show, as she usually does with her well-honed stage craft and magnetic presence, creating a believable, witty and elegant character. She’s fills the stage with her presence, moves beautifully, and you can clearly hear the pronunciation of every syllable in the back of the theater. This projection is a feat all actors should master in learning and polishing their craft to grab and hold an audience.


Lisa Foss took over the part of Dolly Biddle just before the curtain went up on opening night. She is word perfect and has more bounce to the ounce than a sponge cake. The play gave her an opportunity to make an energetic and hilarious entrance that captured and won the audience’s favor, and set the pace for the play. She never broke character, but there were times when we didn’t hear every word.


Carl Howell (Stephen Biddle) did a fine job as Dolly’s son and producer. We’ve seen him before and he just keeps getting better as time goes by. He has a solid future in the theater. Casey McKeon (Guy, the TV camera man) has just one line in the play and two key comedic actions that bring down the house. He's another young actor who is on the way up in show biz.


As we said a few paragraphs ago, this comedy is for those theatergoers who like light and frothy fare as a needed break from today’s exhausting headlines and nasty weather. Perhaps the best antidote du jour is to drop in on The Kitchen Witches for a couple of fun hours.


If you go:

WHAT: “The Kitchen Witches.”

WHEN: Runs through Sun., Nov.18, 2012

Sun .matinees, 2 p.m. Evenings, Wed., Thur.7:30 p.m. Fri., Sat., 8 p.m.

Extra matinee: Thurs., Nov.15, 2 p.m.

WHERE: The Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, Conn.

TICKETS: adults, $40; seniors, $35; students, $20; children, $15.

BY PHONE: 860-767-7318.

WEBSITE: www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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