If you're a golfer, you'll be familiar with some of the action in Ken Ludwig's golf-themed farce The Fox on the Fairway, as most of it takes place during a golf tournament between two country clubs, Quail Valley and Crouching Squirrel.
However, the funny stuff happens off the links--inside the Quail Valley clubhouse, as a slapstick version of a marriage proposal ensues, a bet is made between two rival clubs, and an antique engagement ring falls down a toilet.
Unfortunately, many of the jokes fall flat, probably due to an uneven script, but it's not for lack of trying by the actors. There's not a bad performance in the show. Dyan Cannon, a three-time Oscar nominee who turned 76 years old early in January, somehow manages to portray a sexy, fun-loving woman (about 40 years her junior) wearing stiletto heels so high that at times during Thursday night's performance, I found myself holding my breath, worried that she'd topple off the stage. However, one of the scenes (which features her sitting in a very young man's lap in an obviously compromising position while he indicates titillation) just doesn't ring true, due to the age gap. The fact that the show's two leads, Cannon and Jim Korinke, are so much older than the characters they portray is the Elephant in the Room, lending an air of uneasiness to the entire production.
Before the performance even begins, the buffet beckons. Regulars at the New Theatre Restaurant know to expect a bounteous feast that's as tasty as it is inventive, and Executive Chef Mark Webster does not disappoint with the menu for this show. All the usual suspects are there--baby carrots, green beans, Pasta Florentine, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and the New Theatre's ever-popular polenta (this time, prepared with mild queso fresco cheese and finished with a roasted tomato sauce). But sweet pea mélange (tender sweet peas and edamame simmered in a light dill sauce) is a very welcome addition to the tried-and-true accompaniments--and certainly worthy of going back for seconds.
Main entrees are white roughy, both fried and grilled chicken, roasted beef shoulder tenderloins, boneless "buffalo" chicken thighs, and the most succulent bbq pork, simmered in sweet, tangy bbq sauce. (You will definitely go back for a second round of the bbq pork!)
Some of the best laughs provided in the show are actually from lines adlibbed to poke gentle fun at local celebrities, like Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self. Other hilarious moments are provided by Cannon's depiction of a drunken socialite. (When veteran local actor Jim Korinke, as Quail Valley president, Bingham, asks, "At 10:15 in the morning?" at her request for a drink, she replies, merrily, "I know, I got a late start.")
Korinke shines in his role, as always. I've never seen him turn in anything less than an A+ effort. Louise (Ashley Pankow) and Justin (Matt Holzfiend), as the young, newly-engaged couple, make sparks fly whenever they're onstage. Holzfiend excels at slapstick, and one particular scene in which he escapes from a hospital to wreak havoc on the golf course, is particularly humorous. Muriel (Melinda MacDonald) and Dickie (Mark Robbins) also have good chemistry between them.
But perhaps the best part of the show on Thursday night happened after the curtain call, when Cannon walked out onstage and directly addressed the audience, telling an embarrassing and very personal story about her life with Cary Grant and then asking for questions. She was literally glowing, asking for the house lights to be turned up so she could see her fans. After answering a few queries (and mentioning how much she's enjoying her time in Kansas), she said, "This is fun!"
Then she gave her famous bubbling laugh and knocked the ball straight off the tee.