“Coupled,” an original musical comedy with book, music and lyrics by Diana Rogers, of Brooksville, who also plays the character of Donna, is entertaining, very funny and quite brilliant. “Coupled” plays weekends through August 10th at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in New Port Richey. There is no real story line, but rather a series of vignettes about love, friendship and the relationships between three disparate couples, each with their own issues, as they spend the weekend together at The New Millennium Oasis Resort.
The opening night audience appeared to love it, with loud guffaws of laughter in all the right places. Musical Director and arranger Marvin Lovett deserves kudos for taking Roger’s well written lyrics and creating the arrangements. These adorable songs glue the scenes together and provide insight into these three couples’ relationships. If one were to find any fault with this production, it might be that it is a tad too long. And some segues are a little rocky — but these glitches are easily overcome with each performance as it becomes more polished.
Jimmy Ferraro uses a minimalist set designed to have the “viewer focus on the music, book and lyrics.” He staged and directed this production, and costume designer Myndee Fleury Washington created just the right mix for these three couples, bringing a hint of realism and individuality for each character.
“Coupled” is not a simple show. The cast memorized fast-paced lyrics and performs them to intricate choreography designed by Ferraro, with music timed perfectly. They make multiple costume changes and then remember which set pieces to move for each scene – because they do it all. And they make it look easy.
These stage professionals take these characters and make them believable, lovable, and absolutely huggable. Rogers is a very accomplished actor. As Donna, she shows her vulnerability through her tough exterior. Her facial expressions are priceless and brought much laughter. Pete Clapsis, a strong comedic actor, is Bill, the computer nerd husband of Donna. His character has some really funny lines and Clapsis does not disappoint with his delivery.
Dee Etta Rowe is stunning as Maggie, the independent woman and love interest of the younger man, Daniel, aptly played by Brandon Mauro. There is quite an age difference between these two, but they make it work. Rowe is a professional and Mauro is exuberant without being over the top. He is adorable eye candy, in cowboy hat, no shirt and jeans, as he hitches up his horse and rides on stage while Rowe sings longingly about her cowboy fantasy.
Rick Faurote as Jack, the attorney, has a charming smile, and his harmonies are spot on. He has a likeable stage presence and a pleasant voice, bringing a nice harmonic blend to each song. Jessica Virginia as Lexi is delightful. She has a lovely voice and is a great character actor. As the younger wife of Jack, she is the organizer in the group, keeping everyone on track and planning every minute of the day.
The ladies start their vacation at the resort with a fitness class, singing “It Seems Like Yesterday,” as they work out and lament the condition of their thighs, with one women commenting, “Remember when cottage cheese was something you had for lunch?” The guys then do a cute number about the “Honey Do List.”
These actors have camaraderie on stage that is contagious. You smile right along with them. I especially loved the guys — every number they sang together was a hoot. Each truly embodies the personality of their character. One of the funnier scenes is a song about ESPN, “ you can watch it 24/7 — It’s a man’s best friend,” with a driving beat. These guys are hilarious, and they look like they are having way too much fun together. “Help Me, Oprah,” is an amusing little number about understanding the women in their lives.
Nothing is taboo — we go from how women shop in the mall compared to their men, to “men don’t need directions — it’s all in their head,” to a parody about men and their remotes as they “grab the remote, flip those channels — surfing the TV,” followed by a risqué scene in Act 2 when the women divulge their sexual fantasies and describe their dream man while drinking too many margaritas. Meanwhile, the guys are getting together to watch the fights on ESPN, and sing about watching sports 24/7. The funniest scene towards the end of Act II has each woman describing her perfect dream man to uproarious audience applause.
“Coupled” is absolutely charming with laugh out loud fun. Don’t miss the world premiere of this delightful show right here in New Port Richey. You can say you saw it “when.” This show definitely has ‘legs’ and I predict it will be around for a long while.
“Coupled” will play weekends July 18 through Aug. 10. Tickets are $23.36 plus tax. Jimmy Ferraro’ Studio Theatre is located at 5732 Main Street, New Port Richey. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m. Ask about group rates. Call (727) 409-0293 or visit www.ferrarostudiotheatre.com.
Email Hernando Today correspondent Marsha Reiniers at Marsha@LTC-FLA.com.