Windfall Theatre’s ‘By Jeeves’ a Corker of a Funny Play
Charming. Delightful. Entertaining. And did we mention very funny?
Just some of the words to describe Windfall Theatre’s production of By Jeeves, featuring our favorite manservant, Jeeves and his befuddled but lovable master, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, better known as Bertie.
British author P.G. Wodehouse created these two beloved characters and in the hands of Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Alan Ayckbourn (book and lyrics), audiences now get the musical version of proper English manners turned upside down and sideways with hilarious results. In this latest musical escapade, Bertie finds his beloved banjo stolen at the start of a performance and must find a way to entertain the audience until a new one arrives. Who else, but faithful, shrewd Jeeves to the rescue! Jeeves and Bertie fill the time by telling the backstory of one of Bertie’s zany weekends in the countryside, filled with mistaken identities, seemingly star-crossed lovers and a burglar in a pig mask.
Director Carol Zippel has brought the necessary silliness and over-the-top slapstick to do justice to the farcical storyline. And she has chosen well with a cast that is uniformly excellent. Ben George is all proper British manners, but there’s that mischievous glint in his eye and a few tricks up his tailored sleeves as he “guides” his boss, Bertie in the madcap escapades. As Bertie, Cleary Breunig has the challenging role of being everybody’s accidental fall guy and he delivers admirably, charming us with his sweet bumbling ways, all under Jeeves’ calculated guidance.
The musical numbers work well and the cast works hard to deliver. Others are just as funny and fun to watch: Alicia Rice as Bertie’s ex fiancée who wants him back; Liz Mistele as the hysterical, overly dramatic ingénue; and Mitch Weindorf as the perfectly clumsy but well-meaning minister.
How does it all end up? Only Jeeves knows. And he’s not about to spoil all the fun since there’s plenty of that in By Jeeves.
Through May 20 at Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Ave. For more information, call 414-332-3963 or visit windfalltheatre.com.