Charmed Seat in the Afternoon Sun: One Thirty Productions

Larry Randolph, Gene Ray Price, Cliff Stephens
Larry Randolph, Gene Ray Price, Cliff Stephens

Some well-kept secrets need to take a front and center seat on a sunny bench…. For example, at The Bath House Cultural Center, One Thirty Production’s A Bench in the Sun fits that category. A charmingly wry piece of theatrical fluff, it makes for an appealing afternoon’s entertainment, starting at 1:30pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Dedicated to producing light, “old-fashioned” plays that tell a good story and are peopled with unforgettable characters with nary a hint of questionable language or situations, One Thirty Productions is the only matinee exclusive producing theatre company in the Dallas region. It’s filling a real need, given the growing size of the audiences in attendance.

This is no Johnny Come Lately community theatre production. A seasoned professional Equity cast of three under the guidance of Charles Ballinger, one of the Dallas area’s most versatile, experienced directors with national credentials from both coasts and many respectable artistic locales in between, create an effortlessly smooth divertissement. They really know what makes comedy work: how to elicit chuckles or a few tears at exactly the right moment, how far to push humor without belaboring a joke, when to pause effectively to allow a more serious thought’s effect to sink in. It’s a pleasure to watch true pros at work—they make it seem as effortless as play. Cliff Stephens and Larry Randolph (also company producer) portray a begrudgingly devoted couple of curmudgeonly geezers, Harold and Burt, who bore each other daily with routine banter while sharing a retirement community park bench. As different in personality and style as Oscar and Felix from Simon’s The Odd Couple, Randolph and Stevens create a perfectly infuriating relationship reality that feels like a well-worn groove of predictability. Witness Harold’s announcement of his secret of getting to sleep at night; “I count my dead friends.” Ah, such excitement. Enter a woman — a flirtatious, retired film star–and suddenly the two gentlemen find their dull lives turned upside down.  Gene Ray Price as svelte, stylish Adrienne exudes plucky enthusiasm and just enough mystery to set both men on a crash-course to fervently pursue sunset romance… with a wealth of humorous consequences.

The Bath House Cultural Center’s intimate theatre space is the ideal setting for One Thirty Productions’ character-driven plays. The simple set by Larry Randolph with sound by M. Graeme Bice and lights by Cory Leugemors work effectively to support the talented cast and sweet charm of Ron Clark’s play. In the mood for some classy, light live entertainment? A Bench in the Sun runs March 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28. 1:30 pm, on the dot. One Thirty Productions.

The Bath House Cultural Center is located at 521 E. Lawther Drive at the end of Northcliff Dr. off Buckner Blvd. on the east side of White Rock Lake.
214-670-8749 or on the web: http://www.bathhousecultural.com.

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