Facts of Life Closes; Desire To Live Dims
The theatre lights are on, but the voice breaks through like a shot in the dark:
The Ringwald is packed. It’s the final performance of Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and, after a 5 year gap, Joe Bailey can still perfectly channel the shrill call of Mrs. Garrett.
If I were not a humble shark and instead a multi-millionaire I would put Bailey on salary. He would be joined by the full cast and they would put on nightly performances in my solarium. Jamie Richards as Jo, Jerry Haines as Tootie, Richard Payton as Blair, and Joe Plambeck as Natalie (and the headmaster, and Geri). Dignitaries would come from and wide.
Not that this imagined scenario could generate the warmth present at the Ringwald. You have the feeling of watching old friends. The 4th wall is constructed, broken, and then built again. The audience hangs on for the ride.
The performance is fucking hysterical.
The cast is riffing their way through the script. Within the first few opening minutes Payton and Plambeck are adding doses of reality to their lines: namely a testicle injury and mouthful of cookies. I can’t call it campy or light…it was fun.
Richards and Payton capture the tension inherent in Jo and Blair. Haines is the snoop. Plambeck the egghead who giggles away pain (and also the cerebral palsy afflicted comedian Geri).
As always the Ringwald Staff was accommodating. They had prepared a tank for me to the right of the stage and stocked it full of tequila. I was a might peck-ish and attempted to devour Richards Haines but fortunately a cabana boy arrived to chum my waters.
While prior pop culture send-ups have relied on the musical format Facts is mostly a play about the girls selling themselves through hard times. The main number “Plenty Dirty Going On” is a tight piece of kitsch that leads into the intermission (a.k.a time for shots at Dino’s) and the show’s end.
In a certain respect this was the last night of Facts and a new era for the Ringwald. No longer the “Who Wants Cake Theatre?” a new family oriented season is prepared to kick off September 7th with Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping & Fucking.
For information and reservations call 248-545-5545.