by Pamela Parker
Directed by Murray Chase
Venice Theatre
140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice, 941-488-1115
April 30 to May 19, 2013-05-06

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

To many it would be pure corn pone, but in a city with one of the oldest populations in the U.S., “Second Samuel“ is tasty treacle of a story. By gosh, it’s even got a narrator—Hunter Cross doing one heck of a job as B Flat, a bit slow unless you’d cotton to Marcela’s notion he’s a REtard. Anyways,  the story’s most about how the town (raised up on a different one way back named only Samuel) was pretty much stuck after World War II with people “thinkin‘ different“ from most in Georgia.  Like they voted for Give-Em-Hell-Harry Truman cuz he was jest like them—small businessman, more southern than not, saying his mind. It’s  most often quiet (at night you can hear the traffic light near the drugstore change colors) except now that Miss Gertrude died. She’s the one who gave piano lessons (from the house centered between Omaha’s  beauty shop and the menfolks‘ Bar and Bait shop) and cared for B Flat and touched jest about every other body. They sure can’t say too much nice about her.

But it’s putting in the revered cemetery Miss Gertrude’s body that darn near splits B Flat, his NEgra buddy U.S. (super sweet, sensible guy Carroll Hunter), and good ole Doc (really good old Jim Lovett) from the other townsfolk.  What a to-do over what to do, ‘cause an awful hitch happened down to Neil Kasanofsky-as-owner June’s funeral parlor. Sure as shooting Douglas Snure’s contrary Mr. Mozel’s dying to git ridda anyone different, certainly B Flat, U.S. , and if Miss Gertrude wasn’t downright part and parcel from and of Second Samuel—well, her too. Good thing a sensible guy like bar owner Frisky (likeable Mike Gilbert) is gonna clear things up, specially after B Flat, no less, gives a grand spiel about what some’d call tolerance vs. prejudice.

Well, with all such grand characters (additionally Laurie Colton’s particular Jimmy  DeeAnne, Allan Kollar or on some days Murray Chase’s big man Mansel, Arianna DeCecco or Kenzie Balliet’s young hairdresser Ruby, Lori Chase’s super Omaha—from a family that named everyone fer cities and states, and Nancy Denton’s Marcella who sings), there’s gotta be a return to talk of what food to bring following the funeral. Everything’s lit so nice and sunny by Christopher A.D.Parrish, who knows too how to switch scenes from the salon to the saloon.  Everyone’s dressed casual or spiffy as need be, due to Francine Smetts‘ clothes designs. Everything on stage works together in Donna Buckalter’s scenery, like every last actor does, owing to Murray Chase’s Direction. Sandra Henderson stage-manages the whole thing, even Dorian Boyd’s sound with Michelle Kasanofsky’s arranged music.  Alison Prouty’s musical accompaniment would have warmed the cockles of Miss Gertrude’s heart.  The whole bunch of characters hum on her ole front porch at the end, that takes all of an hour and thirty-five minutes, even allowing ten out between acts. And not an audience-unappreciated minute in the lot.

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