Theater Preview:

Humor found in odd places

June 11, 2009|By Tom Titus

When Golden West College unveils “What the Bellhop Saw” next weekend, audiences may expect what one critic once referred to as “a light, fluffy sex farce built around Salman Rushdie.”

For those not up on their recent history, Rushdie once got into hot water with the Ayatollah Khomeini for writing “The Satanic Verses,” a novel somewhat unkind to Islam. The ayatollah promptly put a price on Rushdie’s head which, at this writing, still is attached to his body.

But, just as the Newport Theater Arts Center currently is finding a barrel of laughs in “The Bad Seed” with its musical “Ruthless,” playwrights Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore can find the humor in rampant terrorism.


Thus, “What the Bellhop Saw,” not to be confused with Joe Orton’s 1969 farce “What the Butler Saw.” The Golden West comedy dates back to only 1990.

This one centers on a mild-mannered young man who checks into an expensive suite in New York’s finest hotel, intending to begin an illicit affair. What happens to him promises to make the consequences of Dustin Hoffman’s little tryst in “The Graduate” quite mild by comparison.

“Little does he know,” director Tom Amen confides, “that his indiscretion will precipitate a fantastic nightmare involving not only his abrasive wife, but a renowned author, a Middle Eastern terrorist, a scheming bellboy, an incompetent CIA agent, a sex-starved maid, a ditsy secretary and a little girl in pigtails.”

All this in the Stage West Theater, Golden West’s showplace of limited dimensions, which is filling in for the college’s Mainstage Theater, currently undergoing renovation.

Which means that much of the craziness might be virtually right in your lap.

Comprising the cast of “What the Bellhop Saw” will be Sean Coutu, David Chorley, Robert Heger, Lawrence Hemingway, Tony Torrico, Bethany Hamrick, Julie Patzer, Joshua Steinberg, Kim Brown, Rebecca Wayne, Amber Luallen and Christian Navarro — who also is scheduled to offer a “special musical interlude.”

Supporting the show backstage are Terry Otto (scenic design), Susan Thomas Babb (costumes), Sigrid Hammer Wolf (lighting), David Chorley (sound) and Tanya Bischoff (stage manager).

If You Go

What: “What the Bellhop Saw”

When: 7:30 p.m. June 19, 20, 24, 25 and 27; 2 p.m. June 21 and 28

Where: Golden West College, 15744 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach

Cost: $12 general admission; $10 for students and seniors

Info: Call (714) 895-8150 or visit www.gwctheater .com

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Independent.

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