Driftwood Players

"Plaza Suite" May - June 2002

By Neil Simon, Directed by Stan Finley Assistant Director Margaret Tingwall

Act One

Christine Vanairsdale: (Miss McCormack) Sherry Hulscher: (Karen Nash) Doug Simons: (Sam Nash)


Sherry Hulscher, Doug Simons, Tom Kuester: (Waiter)


Todd Gordon: (Bellhop) Sherry Hulscher

Sherry Hulscher, Tom Kuester

Act Two

Christa Rogers: (Muriel Tate) Tim Shute: (Jesse Kiplinger)

Christa Rogers, Tim Shute

Act Three

Jonathan Ristow: (Bordon Eisler) Darlene Vaamen: (Norma Hubley) Michael Bennett: (Roy Hubley)

Darlene Vaamen, Michael Bennett

Darlene Vaamen, Michael Bennett

Darlene Vaamen, Michael Bennett, Sara Finley: (Mimsey Hubley)

Pictures by
Jones Photo Co.

From The South Beach Bulletin Thursday, May 16, 2002

Driftwood Players offer Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite"

    The way I see things, life is both sad and funny. I Can't imagine a comical situation that isn't at the same time also painful. I used to ask myself: What is a humorous situation? Now I ask: What is a sad situation and how can I tell it humorously?"
Neil Simon

    By Barb Aue

    With that credo in mind, America's most successful playwright (Why isn't that word playwrite?) sat down and penned three vignettes set in Suite 719 of the world famous Plaza Hotel in New York City. The resulting play will not only make you laugh, it will bring a tear to your eye.

    Local theatre goers have the great good luck of an opportunity to see a fine production of Plaza Suite currently at Aberdeen's Driftwood Playhouse. This production marks the directorial debut of longtime Driftwood player Stan Finley. Last Saturday's opening night found a nearly full house that ranged in age from early twenties to late seventies. Regardless of age, audience members responded positively to a good performance by both principals and supporting cast in a wonderful set created by Ernie Ingram.

    Act One features Sherry Hulscher and Doug Simons as a too-long married couple about to face the consequences of an office affair.

    Act Two pairs Tim Shute and Christa Rogers as former high school sweethearts meeting 17 years later. Rogers steals the show as the ingenuously star-struck Tenafly housewife who gives the term 'ditzy blond' a new lease on life. Shute, now a big shot producer, plays off her personality very well and holds his own throughout the piece.

    Act Three finds mother and father of the bride, Darlene Vaamen and Michael Bennett, working to convince their daughter to come out of a locked bathroom on her wedding day. Vaamen is a natural in this part and lights up the stage well beyond the glitter of the rhinestones studding her hot pink outfit.

    They say you can't go wrong with a Neil Simon play but credit where credit's due -- Without the strong performances offered in this production, it wouldn't be nearly as funny -- nor quite as sad...

    Remaining play dates are: May 17, 18, 24, 25, June 1, and 2. The theatre doors open at 7:15 p.m. with the curtain going up at 8:15 p.m. Sunday matinees start at 2:15 p.m. Ticket outlets include City Drug and Top Food and Drug in Aberdeen, Captain's Cove in the Southshore Mall, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam, Valu-Drug in Montesano, and Our Place in Ocean Shores.

From The Daily World, Thursday, May 16, 2002

By Jeff Burlingame
Daily World Writer

It wasn't exactly the play Stan Finley wanted for his directorial debut, but he says Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite" checks out just fine.

    "I chose 'Private Lives' (a play centering around divorcees honeymooning in the same hotel with their new spouses) but it's being shown in London and we couldn't get the rights released to us," Finley says. "So I read the script (to 'Plaza Suite') and I really liked it."
    The play, now showing at the Driftwood Theater off Broadway in Aberdeen, was suggested to Finley by his assistant director, Margaret Tingwall. It's a collection of three playlets, spliced together with a common theme of love and marriage.
    "It's turned out terrifically, which was my hope," says Finley, a special education teacher at Ocean Shores Elementary School. "And itıs come true."
    The three acts take place in the same upscale New York City hotel room. In the first act, a husband (Doug Simons) and wife (Sherry Hulscher) come to terms with a failing marriage.
     Simons, a veteran of several Driftwood comedies, plays more of a serious role in this one.
    "This is definitely a different role for him," Finley says.
    Simons and Hulscher press on well through a draining act full of cynical humor and nuance. Hulscher plays the not-so-helpless housewife who won't make it easy for her husband to admit he's having an affair. Simons counters deftly as the middle-age-crisis husband who won't admit the infidelity until the bitter end.
    Hulscher takes advantage of her character's cynical sting to reveal that she is not as clueless as she seems, and she presses Simons' character to come to terms with who he is before she lets him off the hook.
    In the 1971 film version of "Plaza Suite," Walter Matthau was the male lead in all three vignettes. That's the same way the play was staged on Broadway, though Finley chose to cast three separate leading men for his adaptation.
    Tim Shute plays the lead in the second act -- about a Hollywood producer who invites his high school sweetheart (Christa Rogers) to meet him at his hotel room.
    Rogers perfectly plays up the part of a dingy soccer mom who pines after the kind of exciting life Shute's character leads.
     Shute provides the perfect foil to Rogers' sweet, hometown girl, downplaying his character's lavish life just enough to keep her tantalized.
    Though the actors change with each vignette, the set is basically the same for the entire two-hour play. "It turned out quite beautiful," Finley notes of the elaborate set, one of Driftwood's most realistic ever. "We spent three weekends moving furniture to find the right (combination)."
    The third act is about a daughter (Sara Finley, Stan's real-life daughter) who locks herself in the bathroom on her wedding day and won't come out, to the chagrin of her parents (Michael Bennett and Darlene Vammen).
     Bennett will stop at nothing to see his daughter get married, especially considering the money he is putting out for the ceremony. The tension between the two actors creates a perfect environment for the comedy of errors they go through to get their daughter to the altar.
    Stan Finley, who's been involved with Driftwood -- mostly behind the scenes -- for several years, says the show is always evolving.
     "If (the public) likes to see a show more than once, this will be a different show every night," the director says. "There's an intimacy of live theater that you don't get from staring at a stationary TV screen."
    The show runs at 8:15 p.m., May 17, 18, 24, 25, 31, and June 1. There will be a 2:15 p.m. matinee on Sunday, June 2.
    Tickets are $8 and available at City Drug, Top Foods, and Captain's Cove in Aberdeen, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam, Valu-Drug in Montesano and Our Place in Ocean Shores.

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