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'Hospitality Suite' mixes philosophical musings with salesmanship angst

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'Hospitality Suite'

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Anyone who has attended a hospitality room at a trade show will recognize its trappings and salesmanship angst in "Hospitality Suite," a play by Roger Rueff now at Citadel Theatre.

Salesmen Larry (Scott Phelps) and Phil (Will Casey) who work for an industrial lubricant company want the president of a large Midwest manufacturing company to visit their hospitality suite during an industrial trade show at a Wichita, Kansas hotel. They have asked for an engineer to lend technical status to their pitch.

As the story unfolds, the laid-back Phil and the young Bob (Shane Murray-Corcoran), an engineer and new employee, touch on a variety of topics until Larry storms in complaining that the hospitality suite’s light noshes aren’t good enough to entice the manufacturing company’s president they call the “Big Kahuna.”

Larry insists their own company’s survival depends on attracting the Big Kahuna's company as a client. Meanwhile, Phil continues to appear nonchalant and Bob just contributes by referring to the bible and Jesus.

Tension builds as Larry becomes more distressed about making contact with the Big Kahuna and Bob proselytizes about his Baptist religion instead of taking the company's interests to heart, including when he had a conversation with the manufacturing company's president.Phil, in the throes of divorce, considers making a career change.

Between company-related discussions, the conversation takes a philosophical bent on life,m love, integrity and religion.

If the plot sounds familiar it's because "Hospitality Suite" was made into the movie "The Big Kahuna" that starred Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito and peter Facinelli in 2000.

As expected when two fine directors, Phelps and Casey, take the stage, Larry and Phil's characters are well-delineated and convincing.

Murray-Corcoran, making his Chicago debut after appearing elsewhere on stage and in such films as "Angela's Ashes," interprets Bob in a manner reminiscent of the "Book of Mormon" version that opened in Chicago, last year.

A fourth character who represents trade show attendees, is Man, played perfectly by Dan Deuel.

Directed by Cody Estle, "Hospitality Suite" is for mature audiences due to language.

Details: Hospitality Suite is at Citadel Theatre now through March 9, 2014. For more information and tickets visit Citadel Theatre or call 847-735-8554. Citadel Theatre is at Lake Forest School District’s west campus, 3000 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, IL 60045.

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