WINTER PARK — There’s a lot going on at the posh Beverly Hills home of aging actress Lolana Lamour, from secrets in the kitchen freezer to multiple accents — all conveniently from the same person — and gangsters with an eye for the ladies. As more and more zany people show up, the laugh quotient rises just as rapidly, and characters who were already rather bizarre decide its time to pretend they’re someone else. In the classic tradition of a rollicking French farce, pretty soon everybody is acting their silliest.
For the audience, it’s a pretty hilarious ride.
What Have They Done With Lolana Lamour? is a musical now in development by playwright and lyricist Bryan Leys and composer Mary Feinsinger. The first hour of the show got its premiere professional reading this week as part of the Festival Of New Musicals at the Winter Park Playhouse. Leys, who attended Friday night’s reading, said this musical has been in development for about five years, and it was the first time he had watched professional actors bring his characters to life on stage.
What’s Lolana Lamour All About?
The play opens with Lily White, a down on her luck horror movie actress working her day job as a Realtor, hoping to find some luxurious mansions she can sell in Beverly Hills. You get the gist of the show’s humor when we discover that Lily’s stage name is Sarah Palin — and yes, she chose it before you-know-who became well known. Knowing that actress Lolana Lamour is retired and has a stunning mansion, Lily heads over there hoping to convince her to sell.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a good farce if everything went smoothly, and the first sign of trouble is Lolana’s maid Blanka, who seems aggressively eager to shove Lily out the door. It’s also kinda odd that Blanka seems to change accents every few seconds — and what country did she say she was from? Never mind. Before you know it, there are cat burglars in the closet, New Jersey gangsters knocking on the door, and Lily is telling everyone involved that she’s actually Lolana Lamour.
You quickly get the impression that Leys was having a blast writing this one: in addition to providing his characters with plenty of snappy one-liners, he’s got a gift for the cute double entendre and for plot twists that are so radically insane, so completely off the wall that they work perfectly. It helps, of course, to have the superlative cast that the Winter Park Playhouse lined up for this one.
While everyone in the cast played their daffy character to comedic perfection, I particularly enjoyed Laurel Hatfield as Lily; she was instantly hilarious as the pushy a-girl’s-gotta-eat real estate agent but later gloriously over the top pretending to be Lolana. Just as good was Holli Trisler, a comedic tour de force as Blanka, the most mysterious character and the one with the most secrets, meaning she became a nonstop source for belly laughs. Kudos as well to director Roy Alan; for a reading, this one moves at the speed of lightning and he brings the absolute best out of his performers.
Where Can You See This Show?
The Winter Park Playhouse, 711 N. Orange Ave. in Winter Park, is hosting the annual Festival Of New Musicals through Sunday. Tickets are $10 per show and a 6 show “Festival Fun Pack” is available for $50. To buy tickets or for more information call the box office 407-645-0145.
The next reading of What Have They Done With Lolana Lamour will be on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Today’s schedule of shows is:
- The Golden Door at 11 a.m.
- Zach Hill & The Rocket Blaster Man Adventure at 1 p.m.
- Love, Always at 3 p.m.
- Tangled Webb at 5 p.m.
- The Lost Girl at 7 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.