by Toni Wilson Wood
“Golf is good walk spoiled.” Mark Twain might have been on to something about the game of golf, but The Fox on the Fairway presented by The Cedar Falls Community Theatre at Oster Regent Theatre in Cedar Falls isn’t a good walk spoiled–it’s a fun, fast paced, well acted farce directed by Gary Baumgartner.
I was slightly afraid of seeing this show because I know literally nothing about golf. When I was a newspaper intern back in my college days, I was the scorekeeper for our newsroom golf outing and I was teased mercilessly for asking, ‘What does par mean?’. So yeah, I am completely ignorant of the sport.
No worries–there’s tons of golf references and the names of who must have been important golfers–but I could understand what was going on. What’s important in Fox on the Fairway is not the golf–it’s the romance, the lost valuables, misunderstood identities, doors slamming and REALLY ugly golf sweaters (delightfully designed by Jean Carlisle and Liane Nichols) that matter.
The show started off a little slow–it seemed to me that the mics weren’t hot enough at the top of the show and that the actors couldn’t be heard well for the first few lines–but once the show got cooking, it cooked.
The set, a tap room of the Quail Valley Country Club, was lovingly designed by Sam Mensinger–the details on the set are phenomenal. It’s sad that the set has to be dismantled after the show–it looks so inviting and well stocked that the audience could just go in and order a drink and relax.
The seven actor cast were all fantastic in their roles.
The story starts with the President of Quail Valley, Henry Bingham (Christopher Cox) trying to figure out how to win a golfing tournament that he made a foolish bet on with Dickie Bell (Tony John), the director of Quail Valley’s rival golf club, Crouching Squirrel. Cox did an amazing job of keeping with the fast pace of the show, and making it look really easy; he juggles all the different things he’s dealing with so well that when it all comes crashing down in the middle of the show, you just laugh and delight in how he somehow puts it back together again. John was fantastic as the boorish, arrogant, loud wall of a man Dickie Bell is–it was a lot of fun to see him on the stage instead of behind the lighting board designing and teching.
When Pamela Peabody, the vice president of Quail Valley (Allison Bollinger) finds out that Henry has made a bet with her ex-husband, she schemes with him to bring Dickie down. Bollinger plays the constantly drinking Pamela with great flair. Bollinger’s insults against Dickie roll off her tongue in a way that makes those tongue twisters look easy, and her abilities with physical comedy were fantastic.
It was Kim Groninga as Muriel Bingham, Henry’s sharp-tongued and ill-tempered wife, who was my favorite character complete scream. Groninga perfectly channeled Lilith from Cheers as the script described ‘Lady Voldemort, She of Darkness’ as she commanded each scene she was in. She had me laughing out loud.
Chris Hanian and Caitie Peterson as Justin and Louise were sweet and delightful as the young couple. Hanian in particular had great stamina as he romped around the stage, and his facial expressions were just priceless. Peterson’s Louise was sweet and naive, her laugh ridiculous.
Bill Sikula played the cigar chomping Golf Announcer with the deadpan comic timing of Steven Wright. He wasn’t on stage (well, at all, as he was in one of the side balconies next to the proscenium) for long, but he added some great color and laughs. Fox on the Fairway is a rollicking comedy.