OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: 'Fox on Fairway' in Munster a customized comedy classic

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: 'Fox on Fairway' in Munster a customized comedy classicBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Ken Ludwig is a master of comedy farce, with his trademark guarantee of "anything can happen" and the added promise of "something always does," always with hilarious results.

He's the man who gave us the stage fun silliness for audiences with his works like "Lend Me a Tenor," "Crazy for You" and "Moon Over Buffalo."

His latest comedy play, about golf and country club snobs, is called "The Fox on the Fairway" and it's enjoying its Chicagoland premiere at Theatre at the Center in Munster.

He first unveiled it in 2010. And from my count, the fine production created by the greats at Theatre at the Center, and running through March 24, ranks as the fifth original national incarnation of what's a fun and imaginative two-hour romp.

This is a very customized comedy.

In fact, director Bill Pullinsi even arranged with Ludwig to tweak some of the scene locations so the country club in the story is billed as our own Briar Ridge in Schererville. (There are also mentions of Community Hospital in Munster.)

The story is set around a high-stake bet between two rival country clubs and the silly shenanigans of the fun caricature personalities who inhabit this world of cocktails, tee time and appropriate attire for afternoon and evening events.

Lance Baker is fantastic as the dry-witted and fussy Bingham, who so feverishly wants to win the golf tournament, while also avoiding his bossy wife Muriel, played with push and shove by Laura Freeman.

Linda Gillum is my stand-out favorite as booze-soaked and chimney smoking socialite Pamela, and Norm Boucher is aces as the rival stuffed shirt (who happens to be one of Pamela's ex-husbands) Dickie Bell.

Rubbery Michael Mahler is would-be golf pro Justin and Kate Bergeron is right on the mark as his love interest, Louise, who works as a server at the country club.

Add to all of this a dazzling and impressive scenic design by Ann Davis and wig workings by Kevin Barthel that you have to see to believe, and this is a fun-filled stage trip without a scoring handicap.

Lighting designer Denise Karczewski adds to the experience as does sound designer Barry G. Funderburg, with this duo working together to create an atmosphere that really leaves the audience feeling as though they are on a golf course.

Props designer Lauren Earnshaw added the perfect touch and costume designer Brenda Winstead provides some very inventive costuming, which generates more than a few well-deserved laughs.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't remind audiences to listen for a cameo voice-over by all-around-good-guy Pat Tomasulo, the morning sports anchor on WGN-TV, who provided the pipes for the narration of the golf tournament.

Performances are 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays with assorted Saturday matinees at 2:30 or 4 p.m. and the evening performances at 8 p.m. Sunday curtains are at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $38 to $42. FYI: (219) 836-3255 or TheatreAtTheCenter.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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