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2018, Arts and Review, Suite Surrender Review, November, Fritz

Suite Surrender Review
by Callie Fritz, 2020 (posted 11-29-18)

I was able to attend Cheshire High School’s production of Suite Surrender on November 16th, and it was an absolutely perfect play, from start to finish. There was never a moment that the audience was not either laughing madly in their seats, or glued to the stage in absolute silence, riveted by the action. Written by Michael McKeever, Suite Surrender centers around a World War II benefit being put on at the Palm Beach Royale Hotel, and the hilarity that ensues from the two stars of the show.

The delightfully dramatic Claudia McFadden (played by Elizabeth Feest) and the man-eating bombshell Athena Sinclair (played by Claire Lasher), are forced to share a hotel room despite their long-standing feud. Elizabeth and Claire make the show the delight that it is, fully embracing the campy and often melodramatic nature of their leading ladies, yet embodying them with a humanity and earnestness that stops Claudia and Athena from turning into two-dimensional caricatures. The show is anchored around the harried and increasingly manic hotel manager Bernard S. Dunlap (played by Chris Baker), and his performance is yet another stand-out in a cast full of phenomenal talent. His use of physical comedy and overall comedic timing left the audience breathless from constant laughter, his character at first seeming to be the “straight man” of the play who grows more and more unhinged as the hijinks of the hotel grow more and more ridiculous is perfection.

On a similar note, the show couldn’t have reached the heights that it did without the characters of Mr. Pippet (played by Logan Wolff) and Murphy Stevens (played by Julianna Distante). As the consistently put-upon and exasperated assistants to Claudia and Athena respectively, both Logan and Julianna excelled, with the audience connecting with their frustration and yearning for more than their current situations. Murphy’s star-crossed romance with the bellhop Francis (played by Matt Long) seemed to be a stand-out storyline, adding a necessary breath of fresh air and young love to the plot. The bellhops Francis and Otis (played by Sam Vetto) were another wonderful addition to the show, with Matt and Sam’s real-life friendship making their comedic chemistry even stronger as Francis and Otis are both exhausted and enamored by the growing chaos of the weekend. No review of this play would be complete without mentioning the characters of Mrs. Everett P. Osgood (played by Maple Carocci) and Dora del Rio (played by Grace Azaula). Maple’s performance is comedic gold, as she brings just the right amount enough pretension and snootiness to the role of Mrs.Osgood without ever losing the humor of the role. Grace also absolutely knocked her role out of the park and I left the show thinking about her performance most— she was every bit the intrepid and pesky gossip reporter, believing you can never go too far for a good scoop, and her use of physicality in her comedy left me howling.

Overall, Suite Surrender was an absolute delight that harkened back to a simpler time and injected some much-needed light and positivity into not only my week, but the week of the entire audience.