In recent years producer Jack Skillman’s venerable Onondaga Hillplayers troupe has specialized in a theatrical oxymoron: the family-friendly sex comedy. This is when the situation sounds naughty, even French, but what you see never flouts community standards. That’s because the new production, Suitehearts, an area premiere, is from William Van Zant and Jane Milmore, the king and queen of New Jersey dinner theater. When a virginal bride is seen walking around in her slip on her wedding night, she’s still wearing a pink sweater underneath.
Incompetent bellhop and extortionist Herman (Samuel Tamburo) greets two squeaky-clean newlyweds from the suburbs, Timothy (Justin Andrew Zehr) and Elizabeth (Bridget O’Brien), in the honeymoon suite of a fancy Manhattan hotel. Elizabeth confesses that she is apprehensive about seeing her first naked man. Within about 10 minutes of the two-hours-plus action, Timothy and Elizabeth learn that a very different set of newlyweds have also been booked into the same suite.
Urban and earthy Frankie (John Seavers, in top form) and Wanda (Karen Alexander) have begun an intimate life long before marriage, but the middle-agers want to celebrate, even with low expectations. Frankie, who talks like Charlie in the Starkist tuna commercials, complains that sex with Wanda lacks the fireworks of Independence Day and is more like Labor Day.
Unusual for farce, characters develop layers of personality. Justin Andrew Zehr as mama’s boy Timothy grows a spine. Bridget O’Brien’s Elizabeth turns out to have a wad of spice in all that vanilla. And Karen Alexander’s golden-hearted Wanda strikes sparks with Suiteheart’s best lines.
Onondaga Hillplayers’ dinner theater production of Suitehearts concludes its run with 6 p.m. performances on Friday, Nov. 7., and Saturday, Nov. 8, and a noon show on Sunday, Nov. 9, at the Sunset Ridge Golf Course, 2814 W. Seneca Turnpike.