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Make way for laughter—laffing room only PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

“Laffing Room Only” was true to its title when Phillips County Players took to the HHS stage Aug. 2-4.

Whispering Pines, a hotel off the beaten path in Vermont, provides the setting for the hilarity.

State agents Ernie Falbo and Vikki Cunningham (Maury Kramer and Penny Dockins) are convincing, if not but a little conniving, in making a deal with young hotel owner Gloria Alexander (Anastasia Conklin).

Their plan is to set up a sting operation at Whispering Pines to catch thieves. The dilapidated hotel that has no business seems like the perfect site.

Mrs. Martin (Karla Satterlee), pictured at left, is aghast as Rondo Muldoon (Jack Gorwitz) examines her fine pearl necklace.  —Enterprise photo

Alexander has inherited Whispering Pines, along with a leaky roof, rotting covered bridge and thousands in back taxes. She dreamily ponders a life in the South Seas.

Topping the news for the week is the theft of a diamond necklace from the Bay House, a nearby aristocratic hotel.

Handyman and caretaker Eben Putney (Eric Conklin) assures Alexander that she’s not being paid enough for the use of Whispering Pines. “Call-it-like-it-is” overall-clad Putney calmly whittles away on his carving project, never missing a beat with what’s happening around him.

Soon we meet hoodlum Rondo Muldoon (Jack Gorwitz), bartering to sell his “collected” watches in the sting operation. He’s undeniably shady in his knowledge of the back streets.

Donald and Hazel Parrish (Tim Swan and Brooke Parker) are more than a little secretive with their ploy as Donald shows up at Whispering Pines with the stolen diamond necklace.

Hilarity unfolds as the necklace is hidden, stolen, retrieved and who knows what else in the confines of the mysterious Whispering Pines.

In the meantime, unpretentious Irma (Dolly Smith) shows up with her shopping bags full of “Grade-A trash.” A lively character, she calls herself the best bag lady in Vermont.

Irma’s antics are a hoot throughout as she swishes and sways in her hand-me-down finery. Luxury layers of colorful clothing feature tie-dye and more. Her bag lady appearance is complete with a battered hat, high-top-to-the-knee black sneakers and gloves with holes in all the fingers.

Irma the bag lady (Dolly Smith) saves the day as she clobbers hoodlum Rondo Muldoon (Jack Gorwitz).
—Enterprise photo

Quick to make two and two add up to four, insurance investigator Wilma Potaine (Ashley Sullivan) sleuths her way to Whispering Pines. With an acute awareness of the diamond necklace hijinks, Potaine is determined to recover the jewels.

When the necklace is found, then lost, then found again, jewelry owner Mrs. Martin (Karla Satterlee) is summoned from the Bay House.

New to the Phillips County Players stage, Satterlee is delightful in her role as the wealthy society lady who “sneezes money.” Everything is just “funsy” to Mrs. Martin. She does a fine job of looking down her nose at the lowlifes at Whispering Pines.

Whereabouts of the diamond necklace gets confusing, but good-old solid-as-the-earth Mr. Putney at long last returns the treasure to Mrs. Martin.

Rondo Muldoon (Jack Gorwitz), pictured at left, controls the gun in this scene at Whispering Pines in the Phillips County Players’ presentation of “Laffing Room Only.” Other characters in the play are pictured with their hands up, from top left, Hazel Parrish (Brooke Parker), Wilma Potaine (Ashley Sullivan), Vikki Cunningham (Penny Dockins), Donald Parrish (Tim Swan), Ernie Falbo (Maury Kramer), Gloria Alexander (Anastasia Conklin), Mrs. Martin (Karla Satterlee) and Eben Putney (Eric Conklin).  —Enterprise photo

Then gun, gun, who has the gun prevails as one wonders if the diamond necklace saga will ever end.

Surprise revelations on several counts, amidst more laughter, lead to a happy ending for almost all!

Karen Swan did a fine job of directing the play by Tim Kelly.

Holyoke Enterprise August 8, 2013