SKIN DEEP by Jon Lonoff is a lively four character romantic comedy that, in the words of director Terry Rabine, “explores our obsession with physical beauty in a way that’s equally funny and insightful.” It features two sisters: Sheila, obsessed with her physical appearance and heavy-set Maureen, who’s given up on romance. There’s also Squire, Sheila’s mildly flirtatious husband and Joe, Maureen’s tentative blind date. Of course the primary thrust of the play is to get Joe and Maureen together.
Tony Krivitski has designed an excellent apartment set that includes a practical kitchen. The wonderful and extensive clutter, cereal boxes, pizza boxes, paper plates, laundry, etc. makes it a prop nightmare for stage manager Brandi Klein, who does a terrific job.
Rachel Budon’s lighting is expertly done, while Patty Pawliczak’s costumes are very good. I especially liked Joe’s red shirt and Squire’s Act II suspenders. The contrast in taste between Maureen’s Act I and Act II dresses is subtle and perfect.
The cast is fairly well-balanced. Monica Cangero does well with the under-written role of Sheila, saddled as she is with not much except plastic surgery jokes. She’s able to add some depth to her character in her Act II scene with Squire, nicely played by Dennis Holland. His role is also a bit under-written, but Mr. Holland manages in the opening scene to convey his fondness for Maureen and their scene together late in Act II is very good.
Emily Mikesell as Maureen and Stephen David Pelletier as Joe have great chemistry together. They make an appealing couple, each with their own sensitivities. Maureen is a funny smart-mouthed New Yorker, but Miss Mikesell lets the veneer crack judiciously to give the character depth. Her scene alone at the end of Act I is quite touching.
As Joe, Mr. Pelletier gives the character both vulnerability and unexpected strength. He escapes the trap of playing a two-dimensional shy bumbler and makes Joe a believable human being. Their final scene together left me choked up with damp eyes, and I’m a tough sell.
Director Terry Rabine has done a nice job of staging and directing SKIN DEEP. I giggled at the removal of Joe’s wet jacket – funny, but believable. He’s helped his cast make their characters fully human and also brought out all the humor in the script. The play is good summer fare, but also has some depth. It provides an entertaining evening in the theatre.
The visit to this theatre was for me a nostalgic one. In 1982 I was in a production there of I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES, my last professional acting job before switching to the music end of the business. There certainly have been a lot of improvements since then. By the way, the food is excellent.
To get back to the review – on a scale of one to five the Lake George Dinner Theatre production of SKIN DEEP gets four and one-third steamboats. For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.