By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Jeff Jackson with Roseann Ruggiero
Music Director: Thomas Rodgers Choreographer: Bernadatte Baron
WHEN: March 2-18; Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM
WHERE: Black River Playhouse, located at the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue in Chester, NJ.
TICKETS: $24 ($22 for Seniors/Students).
For reservations call 908.879.7304. For more information visit the CTG website www.chestertheatregroup.org and the special By Jeeves site http://www.byjeevesatctg.com
The characters Jeeves and Wooster were created by the brilliant humorist P.G. Wodehouse. Bertie Wooster, the hapless society fop, and his unflappable (if a bit snooty) manservant, Jeeves, have inspired countless books, movies, and radio and television programs ever since.
Nearly all of the Jeeves stories share the same irresistible comic premise: Bertie, while a member of upper-crust society, is quite clueless and dimwitted—as are his friends. His manservant Jeeves is the one character with cunning, and he employs it tirelessly, time and again, to rescue his poor young master from his foibles, follies and escapades. The irony: In his own mind, Bertie is quite brilliant and capable, mostly unaware that without Jeeves around he would be lost. Yet Jeeves—ever the dutiful valet—never lets on that he is firmly in control of his employer’s life, content with his role as silent Machiavelli.
Add to that winning mix the cutting wit of playwright Alan Ayckbourn (The Norman Conquests, Absurd Person Singular) and the infectious melodies of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and you have a perfect little gem of musical theater comedy, By Jeeves.
Mistaken identities and romantic entanglements are the classic comic engines of By Jeeves, but wrapped around the story is a clever device: At the start of the show, the audience is told they are in attendance at a hall for a charity concert featuring a banjo performance by Bertie Wooster (a skill at which he is as inept as he is boastful). To spare the poor attendees, Jeeves contrives to have Bertie’s banjo conveniently stolen, leaving him no choice but to fill the evening with anecdotes of his misadventures. Jeeves narrates us through Bertie’s spotty recollections, ultimately spinning the tale we see unfold—enhanced by impromptu (and delightfully inadequate) props, costumes, scenery and sound effects.
The cast includes: Bob Longstreet as Jeeves, Jeff Jackson as Bertie Wooster with ) Mark Dacey, Rich McNanna, Jeffrey Fiorello, Eric Harper, Juliet Brines, Kathleen Campbell Jackson,Tina Kaye and Mike Patierno. The ensemble: Diane Butler, Barb Haag, Steven Nitka, Bob Sackstein.