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Madness on Madrona Drive

By July 27, 2015August 25th, 2015No Comments

Sometimes, a very silly comedy that moves very quickly and does not require much contemplation of how ludicrous the plot actually is, can provide a delightful evening of entertainment. Such is the case of Madness on Madrona Drive, the delightfully funny comedy by Louis Flynn that opened this past weekend in the Orinda Starlight Theater in the Orinda Community Center Park.

As this play opens, quirky homeowner Louise Mc Hough (Maureen-Theresa Williams), is assisting her daughter, Mary (Virginia Blanco), to prepare for her wedding nuptials with a professional wedding planner, Helen Henderson (Betsy White) in her home. Even though the discussion should be entirely about the plans for Mary’s forthcoming wedding, the household, including housekeeper Millie (Susan England), is all excited with the recent revelation that their neighbor is a well known gangster.   In addition, an incident occurred a day earlier, where-in that same neighbor had purportedly had to vacate his house quickly due to suspicions that his life might be in danger. Mrs. Mc Hugh is a woman who envisions herself being the focus of attention and is thrilled that she might be interviewed by the local media, seeking information about her nefarious neighbor.

MR. TRAVERS (Ken Sollazzo, left) keeps a watchful eye as Louise (Maureen-Theresa Williams) tries to explain things to her brother (Al Guaraglia as Frank) in the Orinda Starlight production of “Madness on Madrona Drive,” at the Orinda Community Park amphitheater through Aug. 15.
Charles Jarrett photo

In the midst of the excitement and curiosity surrounding the reports of suspicious people coming and going from the neighbor’s house across the street, a disgruntled senior newspaper delivery person, Jimmy McMann (Tom Westlake), arrives at the Mc Hough house demanding payment for past due newspaper delivery service.  A confrontation ensues between Mc Hough and Jimmy brought about by Mrs. Mc Hough’s chiding of Jimmy over the newspaper’s content. Jimmy goes on to explain that his newspaper is a “family” newspaper that does not dwell on all the yellow journalism that Mc Hough seems to prefer reading about.

In the midst of all the discussions relating to the wedding preparations being made, another gentleman, Mr. Travers (Ken Sollazzo), unexpectedly  arrives early, stating that he is the father of the groom, whom Mrs. Mc Hough has never met.  At this time, the Bride-to-be, Mary, heads out to do some shopping for wedding party decorations and other essential wedding items.

Millie, the housekeeper, subsequentlyadvises Mrs. Mc Hough that there is a telephone repairman up on the roof.  Mrs. Mc Hough states that she was not aware that anything was wrong with the telephone, nor that there was any repair necessary. In short order, the repairman (identified as “Dick” on his coveralls (played by Ryan Terry), falls from the roof into the backyard from a ladder.  Mrs. Mc Hough questions the inept repairman as to who called for phone repair service and questions what repairs he has made, receiving answers that make little or no sense, setting the idea in her mind that something unbelievably criminal is about to take place in her beautiful, mid – 70’s style West coast neighborhood. Suddenly, she discovers that her guests, the telephone repairman, the purported father-in-law, and the wedding planner, are not who they claim to be, but in reality are an inept hit-man team out to do in the crime-boss across the street.

The frightened but now cocky and emboldened Mrs. Mc Hough decides that she is not going to let the bad guys “take care” of the criminal boss neighbor and she begins to think of ways that she can spoil their plans. Unfortunately, each and every one of her plans fall apart almost as quickly as they are conceived. Her brother, the Reverend Frank Fitzgerald (S.J. Al Guaraglia) arrives at the house and is also held captive by the bad guys. Mrs. Mc Hough enrolls her none-too-anxious brother into her plans to thwart the bad-guys. A short time later, one of her friends, Florabel (Kelly Hansen), stops by the house and almost finds herself an unwitting assistant to Mrs. Mc Hough’s plans. The plans and counter plans hatched by the criminals and the household of wanna-be heroes become a series of kooky failure prone disasters, all guaranteed to keep you laughing. There are several more contributing actors including a policeman played by Dan Phillips and a newspaper reporter, Mr. Harris (Bill Chessman) who add to the chaos and levity. The costumes are equally outrageous but quite appropriate for the hippie west coast setting of this fun-filled play.

The acting is really very good, making the cartoon like characters in the crime spoof very enjoyable. The set isoutrageously fitted in 60’s -70’s decor, bringing back a vivid memory of the lava-lamp, space flavored wall clocks and shocking color combinations of the 1970’s in which the event occurs.

Madness on Madrona Drive is a delightful community theater comedy and continues Fridays and Saturdays through August 15th, with one Sunday performance on August 9th at 4 pm and on Thursday, August 13th at 8 pm. Tickets are a very reasonable $16 for adults and $8 for children and seniors. The theater is the amphitheater in the Orinda Community Center Park adjacent to the Orinda Community Center and Library at 26 Orinda Way. Be sure to dress in layers because this is an outdoor facility and is subject to the fog that occasionally rolls over the Oakland/Orinda hills into the community center area. For more information, call (925) 528-9225 or check out their web site at or contact them by email the company at