As Major Margaret Houlihan of arguably television’s most popular TV show, M*A*S*H, Loretta Swit became an American icon. Today she is still delighting audiences while appearing in theaters throughout the world in various stage productions. Fortunately for Kansas Citians, Swit is fond of working with Artistic Director Dennis D. Hennessy at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park. (Her last engagement was in Cactus Flower in early 2010.) And Swit once again shines brilliantly in Move Over, Mrs. Markham, one of the funniest bawdy farces to ever hit the stage.
“Move Over, Mrs. Markham” was written by Brits Ray Cooney and John Chapman, and I had the good fortune to see the British version performed in London quite a few years ago when I attended boarding school there. I still remember patrons in the audience bobbing up and down and wiping their brimming eyes, near-hysterical with mirth.
The same reaction occurred at the New Theatre this month as I watched American actors (including Ms. Swit) perform the same helter-skelter entrances and exits with comparable aplomb and the same general air of high-pitched hilarity. And the audience could barely stop guffawing long enough to breathe.
Debra Bluford, Jan Chapman, Todd Gearhart, Mandy Morris, Stuart Rider, and Dean Vivian all play their parts with great gusto. The ever-dependable Jim Korinke strikes just the right note as publisher Henry Lodge. And Dodie Brown (a real home-grown gem) sparkles as the prudish authoress who writes “Bow-wow” books.
As in all great farces, cases of mistaken identities abound, and laughs fly even faster than the doors fly open and shut.
Award-winning Executive Chef Mark Webster has put together dining choices to rival the excellence of the performers onstage. At the New Theatre, the meals always start with mixed green salads perked up with either creamy buttermilk dressing or poppyseed vinaigrette. The dressings are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. And the fresh-baked breadsticks are highly addictive.
Baby carrots (gently simmered in a brown sugar glaze), creamed peas, steamed fresh broccoli and roasted garlic potatoes are all wonderfully seasoned, and ensure that even a vegetarian can dine well at the New Theatre Restaurant.
The pasta de campo (spiral pasta tossed with kale, smoked mushrooms, sweet onions, Parmesan cheese and oregano) is a perfect mixture of flavors, and the polenta (a house specialty) is prepared with mozzarella cheese, basil and oregano.
The entrees—braised pork, deep-fried basa (a very mild and tender fish), grilled chicken tenders, and roasted shoulder tenderloins—all come with imaginatively-flavored sauces, to make them stand out. (Your taste buds will definitely take notice!)
The Chef’s Choice—while perhaps not as adventuresome as in meals past—is a mouth-watering concoction. Tender orzo pasta with sweet green peas and crisp, smoky bacon in a fresh Parmesan cream sauce—to die for!
The only sour note in the whole evening comes when the final curtain call is over and you have to leave this gorgeous theater (where everything always runs smoothly, and nothing is left to chance) to go home.
The Fine Print
“Move Over, Mrs. Markham” runs through November 6 at the New Theatre Restaurant. Call 913-649-7469 or go to www.newtheatre.com for tickets.