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Contrasting comedies opening this weekend

October 31, 2002

Tom Titus

Comedy comes in all shapes and sizes. Two comedies opening in

Huntington Beach this weekend are examples of the contrasting nature

of the genre.

There's the sophisticated comedy, epitomized by Philip Barry's

classic play and movie "The Philadelphia Story." Golden West College

borrows from that era in its production of Barry's lesser-known play

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"Holiday," opening Friday.

Then there's the belly laugh variety, typified by meek and mild

characters extricating themselves from situations forced upon them by

overbearing antagonists. An example is "The Foreigner" at the

Huntington Beach Playhouse, also opening Friday.

"Holiday" is described by its director, Tom Amen, as "stylish,

witty, romantic, fun and, best of all, it's a real crowd pleaser."

It's also rarely presented to modern audiences, an element that

attracted Amen's interest.

The original "Holiday" was made into a movie with Cary Grant and

Katharine Hepburn, the same duo who headlined Barry's "Philadelphia

Story," not to mention screwball comedies such as "Bringing Up Baby."

It's set in New York City around Christmas time and focuses on a

successful young man, Johnny Case, who's engaged to a beautiful but

snooty young woman, the heiress to a large family fortune. Johnny's

rebellious attitude toward the encroaching establishment -- as well

as a growing attachment to his fiancee's sister -- provide the

ingredients for conflict in this play, which has been updated from

the 1930s to the '50s, which reflected a similar socially and

politically conservative attitude.

Performing in the Golden West cast will be Mark Bedard, Tara

Redepenning, Christa Mathis, Joshua Matheson, Nick Cook, David

Snyder, Kris Kelly and Rebecca Fetscher.

"Holiday" will run for two weekends, playing Fridays and Saturdays

at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Nov. 16 in the college's

Mainstage Theater. Ticket information may be obtained by calling the

box office at (714) 895-8150.

Meanwhile, the Huntington Beach Playhouse is about to raise the

curtain on "The Foreigner," Larry Shue's rib tickler about a shy

Briton spending a weekend at a Georgia fishing lodge and pretending

not to speak or understand English so he won't have to converse with

the local citizenry.

This guise gets him into a steaming kettle of hot water as he

unintentionally becomes privy to an impending coup by the local Ku

Klux Klan chapter, and is called upon to head up the defending

forces. In the meantime, he's busy "learning English" from a most

unlikely instructor, a teenage "slow learner" who teaches him the

two-syllable pronunciation of "fork."

Gary Page plays the "foreigner" of the title, with Christy Joy

Smith, Josha Crowley, Jozeph Wise, David Cunningham, Kip Hogan and

Joshua Collins completing the cast.

"The Foreigner" will be presented 16 times over the next three

weekends at the playhouse, 7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach, in

the Central Library complex. Curtain times are Thursdays and Fridays

at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m. through

Nov. 17 (matinee performance only closing day). Reservations are

being taken at (714) 375-0696.

* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Independent.

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