Review of The Sensuous Senator,
thru Feb. 27th, 2010
Review of "The Foreigner",
thru Nov. 14, 2009
Review of "The Importance of Being Earnest,
thru Sept. 26, 2009
Review of "You Can't Take it With You" at
thru June 6, 2009
Review of "Murder on the Bounding Main"
at SM Playhouse
1/16 - 2/27/09
Review of "A Christmas Carol Story" at SM Playhouse
11/28 - 12/23/08
Profile of Caroline Langford of "A Christmas Carol Story" at SM Playhouse
11/28 - 12/23/08
Review of "Rose's Dilemma" at SM Playhouse
8/29 - 9/27/08
Review of "Earth and Sky" at SM Playhouse 6/27 - 8/9/08
“The Sensuous Senator” Brings Naughty
Political Romp to Sierra Madre Playhouse
By Fran Syverson
Tired of political
rhetoric and politicians scandalous shenanigans? How about seeing a play
where it’s all in fun? Then you’ll want to see “The Sensuous Senator”
currently at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.
It has all the
trappings of a “naughty political romp,” as it’s billed. Red, white and
blue bunting draped across the dais…the campaigners wearing glittery Old
Glory flag pins in their lapels…all is ready. The moment is at hand to
introduce the Senator and his wife, who is always at his side. And now:
Douglas acknowledges his introductions, proclaims he will run for
President, and then immodestly proceeds to list his many virtues, most
notable of which are his commitment to family values, truth, fidelity,
and on and on. Speeches! Applause! Probing questions from the press—most
The accolades, the
political platitudes in “The Sensuous Senator” are so stereotypical that
we might think they were lifted from today’s headlines and that we’re at
home watching TV!
But “doth the
Senator protest too much”? We wonder—for soon the curtains open and we
can peek into behind-the-scenes maneuvering that goes on in the
Over coffee, talk
turns to concern about questions posed by Betty Morrison of that pesky
news magazine, “The Intruder.” Senator Douglas confers with two close
Congressmen, his nephew Jack Maguire (Brendan Shanahan) and Clyde Salt
(Charles Howerton.) The former is a relative newcomer to Congress and an
innocent, the latter an old hand, cynical and a bit bruised by
Soon Lois, the
Senator’s wife, must catch a flight to Chicago, so Salt and Maguire also
And lo! The
Senator’s sensuous side emerges! “Aha! I’m alone for the weekend!” And
he dials Veronica, his secretary. He’s petulant when she tells her
“honeybear” that she can’t be with him, but Douglas soon goes to Plan
B—and phones an agency for an “escort.”
Then, for the next
hour and a half, the audience is treated to a riotous mélange of
mishaps, as one by one, the people in his life arrive at the Senator’s
home, basically unannounced. Congressman Salt has locked himself out of
his house. Maguire wants to strategize his uncle’s campaign further.
Gorgeous and frisky blonde Fiona arrives from ‘the agency.’ Scott Vinci
as the plodding policeman keeps turning up to “check things out,” always
at inopportune moments—as if there are any other moments during this
wild evening! And voluptuous Veronica changes her mind and comes to
enjoy time with her boss, also changing her clothes into something for
evocative for the occasion. With Tanya C. Edwards effective as Morrison,
the persistent news-snoop, it’s more than a full house!
Of course it’s a
silly plot! It is, after all, as a bedroom farce. So buy into it, ignore
the improbabilities, and laugh your way through the risqué and somewhat
bawdy story that hinges on skimpy premises and even skimpier apparel!
Senator,” written by Michael Parker, abounds with pantomimed humor and
double-entendres. Laughs become better and better as the jokes build on
(Shanahan’s) height plays to advantage in a couple of rollicking skits,
and his wide-eyed innocence make him a perfect foil for Fiona’s amorous
advances, so well-depicted by Kerry Jade Aberman. Mark Tydell is a
smooth operator, well up to the demands of playing the sensuous Senator
with his befuddled quips and inventive alibis.
Activity in the
bedroom gives new meaning to the phrase “undercover agency.” And Melanie
Rashbaum spends a good deal of time under the bed as Veronica,
impatiently awaiting her tryst.
The Senator’s wife
brings perhaps the only moments of seeming sanity in a story deep with
illogical, evasive explanations of the goings-on. Lois Douglas’s role is
shared by Donna Cherry, who charmed us on opening night and will
continue through the early portion of the run, and Jenifer Winkler, who
will then portray Lois.
split-screen stage with its two stairways and several doors allows
people to be in either the bedroom or living room without running into
each other, important for the rampant confusion. Helping Calhoun with
set construction were Patt Paezynski, Brendan Shanahan, Karen Young, and
Mike Dessin. Dessin also is stage manager and plays Marty Richmond.
Lois Tedrow brings
her usual deft touch to the costuming, all the way from bumbling Clyde
Salt’s argyle sox and plaid bathrobe, to Veronica’s and Fiona’s clothes
seemingly right out of Victoria’s Secret.
Ken Salzman returns
to the Playhouse as director, with Thelma Diaz assisting. Ward Calaway
is producer; Barry Schwam,
sound designer; and
Steve Shaw, sound operator.
Maureen Davis handles
the lighting, critical as the scenes shift from room to room. Elaina
Present, Sierra Senzaki, and Karen Young are the lighting crew. Anne
Marie Atwan is again in charge of properties.
Credit John Johnson and
Calaway with program design. Donald Songster did the production
photography, and Kate VanDevender created the poster art. Philip
Sokoloff is publicist.
Childish squeals of
laughter could be heard on opening night, for the fast-moving antics
onstage were very funny. We might note, however, that even the title of
“The Sensuous Senator” suggests it might not be considered exactly
“family fare.” If they’re young enough, little ones won’t “get” some of
the adult jokes; for adolescents, it’s another matter. Now you know.
But for adults, this
“naughty political romp” as it’s called on the program cover, is
hilariously entertaining. Enjoy it
at the Sierra Madre
Playhouse weekends through Feb. 27. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Fridays and
Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. for Sunday matinees. Admission is $20 general,
$17 for seniors (65+) and students (13-17), and $12 for children 12 and
The Sierra Madre
Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. City
lots offer free parking. Pre- or post-theater dining at local
restaurants on Baldwin Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard can enhance
your theater-going experience. For ticket reservations or more
information, phone (626) 355-4318, or visit the website,
www.sierramadreplayhouse.org, for online ticketing. For group
reservations, call (626) 836-2125.