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Help Yourself

Barnstormer’s Theatre Wins Friends and Influences People with Self-Help

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I don’t usually care much for penis jokes. However, when they are well-placed and timed, with a sense of amusement from all parties, they can be jolly good fun. (That’s what she said.) Ahem. At any rate, naughty jokes and more are found in Barnstormers Theatre’s Self-Help, playing through November 6.

Hal and Cindy Savage (Steve Chroninger and Beth Nace) are a happy but dissatisfied couple, struggling as actors on the dinner theatre circuit, dreaming of making millions and living the easy life. Cindy has an epiphany while reading a self-help book—they could come up with the same clichéd jargon as the author she was reading. And they do. Two books, multiple inspirational tapes and countless seminars later, they have achieved their goal of making lots of moolah selling positive feelings. What they did not expect was how their success would infect their formerly loving marriage.

Chroninger and Nace had great chemistry, and their agent, Ruby Delvecchio (Laura Erb) was positively “fabulous.” Bernice (Sylvia McKinley), the maid, was superb—adding just the right amount of hilarity in her supporting role. The entire cast kept the audience laughing from beginning to end. The set was very well done; portraying a millionaire estate with multiple doors to sneak through or slam based on the drama at hand.

While the topic seems downright serious and possibly depressing, Canadian playwright Norm Foster has a field day with it. He says about his scripts on his website, “I never set out with a monumental purpose in mind. I’m not trying to teach an audience a lesson or pass along some profound message, because I don’t think I’m qualified. What I am trying to do is make them feel a little better about this world, and that’s not easy these days.”

Barnstormers has done another one of Foster’s plays in recent years, The Love List, in which a fellow who has had bad luck with love is given a list of attributes that creates the woman of his dreams, though as soon as she appears, he starts adjusting her character traits. In the same way, Self-Help addresses the important topics of love and relationships, with an approachable, comedic and sexy flair.

Photo Credit: Wayd Drake

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