A perfect evening at FST’s Perfect Wedding

On opening night of Perfect Wedding, by Robin Hawdon, I happily crossed the threshold of the newly renovated Gompertz Theater, part of Florida Studio Theatre. The production was witty and engaging; the acting was superb, and the new stage acquitted itself beautifully. What could have been a predictable story of nuptials gone awry turned into a joyous romp that had the audience at “hello.” 

Bill hurries the “other woman” into the bathroom as he plans his next move. Thankfully, his partner-in-crime, best pal Tom (Dale Embry) arrives at his bridal suite ready to discuss the wild night they’d had at Bill’s stag party at the hotel. The two have great comedic chemistry and Embry keeps the entire affair afloat throughout the play. He is good-natured and game to help Bill, while still desiring to protect his own fledgling relationship with new girlfriend, Judy. Embry is a real charmer, and I hope to see him in many Sarasota productions to come. 

In fact, I’d love to see this entire cast, rounded out by Kate Siepert as the chambermaid and Jenny Strassberg as Judy, in repertory in Sarasota. They were all at the top of their game (even working very well with British accents); they displayed perfect timing and were, quite frankly, the kind of people with whom you want to spend roughly two hours. 

Perfect Wedding is a riotous play that moves quickly and keeps you guessing. As the wedding party periodically peered out the window noting the guests pouring into the church, decisions were necessarily made with rapid-fire simplicity. I could feel the energy in the theater because we all began to care about these characters, who managed to bare their souls in the midst of a farce. 

On a programming note, the party planner in me was surprised that FST missed an opportunity with such a light-hearted party-oriented production to set the stage, as it were, for a huge event celebrating the first night in the renovated theater. I would have broken the bank to serve champagne and wedding cake because the whole audience was surely in a celebratory mood! 

Last week’s play, Talley’s Folly, made me think, but this week’s show, Perfect Wedding, made me positively giddy. I suggest grabbing a pair of tickets and checking out the new Gompertz forthwith.  Tickets are available at http://www.floridastudiotheatre.org/.

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