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VIDEO: Political hijinks take over in Western Reserve Playhouse's 'The Senator Wore Pantyhose'

by April Helms | Special Products Editor Published: September 9, 2016 12:00 AM
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Western Reserve Playhouse will wrap up its 2016 summer season with the political farce "The Senator Wore Panty Hose" by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore.

The play, directed by Stow resident Brian Westerley, opens Sept. 16 and runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 1.

Chelby Benson of Sagamore Hills said that while several theaters are doing politically-themed shows, this one "has a lighter note."

"There are still a lot of parallels, in a humorous way, to today's political climate," said Benson, who plays Honey Pie, the wife of a television evangelist.

Benson, who teaches art and co-directs the theatrical productions at Woodridge High School, said this was her first show at Western Reserve Playhouse -- and her first time on stage in many years.

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"It's fun to be back onstage after 10 years," she said. "It's fun to experience theater from a different perspective."

Adam Young of Hudson plays Gabby Sandalson, a senator whose bid for the White House is slumping.

"He is probably the only real person in the show, in that he is an honest person caught up in this position created by his campaign manager," said Young. "He is forced to do a lot of ridiculous things."

Could someone like Sandalson survive in the real world's political arena?

"Gabby would be destroyed," Young replied. "He'd be obliterated. He's a very sheltered guy."

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Indeed, Sandalson's integrity is a huge liability to his presidential aspirations, in the eyes of his campaign manager Tom Gordon (played by Bob Kenderes). The manager tries to cook up a sex scandal involving the senator to secure more votes. Gordon also is trying to secure the backing of TV evangelist Reverend Johnny Burgermeister (Barry Wakser). The senator, manager, Reverend, the Reverend's wife Honey Pie and Nellie (Emmy Cohen), a single girl with a baby the senator will kiss, all descend on a modest hotel in the Midwest, run by Chauncy (Marc Dusini), who also runs an antique business on the side. Sandalson, meanwhile, is anxious about his wife (Rose Gabriele), who is stuck in traffic.

Adding to the fun are two crooks (played by Jim Hagan and Ben Merold), who are trying to find the money they filched from a robbery years ago amid all the campaign publicity, and local news reporter Don "Scoop" Bother (Josh Larkin), who is eager to see what scintillating stories he can find.

Larkin has made several appearances on local stages this summer; he was on stage for the second weekend of Western Reserve Playhouse's production of "Love Letters" in July, and is wrapping up Weathervane Playhouse's production of "You Can't Take It With You."

"It's nice to keep the momentum going, but it keeps me busy," he said.

Larkin lives in Dover, but works in Fairlawn, so he said it was actually "convenient to just stay up here until the late evening."

Gabriele of Copley said that her role as Susan, the senator's wife, was "a fun role."

"I'm a foil for the other people's actions," she said. "It's been great, the cast is fabulous and I'm having a great time. It's a timely summer show."

Several actors are making their Western Reserve Playhouse debut with "Senator," including theater veteran Bob Kenderes, 68, of Brunswick.

"Rose sent me a Facebook message and asked me to come out," he said.

Kenderes said he has been in more than 90 shows, and that Western Reserve Playhouse was his 22nd theater at which he has tread the boards.

"It's just fun," Kenderes said of the play. "We don't take ourselves seriously. We know it's a joke. It's a silly little piece, it's topical right now, in a way."


Theater information

Western Reserve Playhouse is at 3326 Everett Road, near the Bath and Richfield Township line. For details, call 330-620-7314.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438



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