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East End Theater Review: Steve Martinís Play, "Picasso At The Lapin Agile," Is A Success At North Fork Community Theater

T.J. Clemente

Eric Clavell as Picasso, Pete Peterson as Einstein, Rick Peters as Gaston, Mark Ahrens as Schmendiman, and John Tramontana as Freddy. (Courtesy Photo)

Steve Martin's play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, opened Friday, January 17 at the North Fork Community Theater in Mattituck. I caught the Sunday matinee. There is a magic to any production at the cozy North Fork Community Theater because both the volunteers and the usual North Fork audience create a wonderful atmosphere for live theater.

The play was pure Steve Martin's wit, vision, and the audience laughed and chuckled as the one-liners and funny sub plots rolled out as if it was SNL in Mattituck. However, there also were moments when Director Bob Kaplan was able to use his skills to move the 11-actor cast around the stage like chess pieces to spice things up and deliver serious lines.

John Tramontana as Freddy connected with the audience with his disarming charm and everyday man approach to the part that was successful. Rick Peters as Gaston won over the crowd with his comedic dancing movements and his overall ease on stage. He had many juicy one-liners and nailed them all. Sarah Storjohann as Germaine had important moments as she moved about the stage. I personally enjoyed her facial expressions when she was not delivering lines.

Pete Peterson as Einstein was a riot, perhaps this was the part Steve Martin wrote in his own satiric voice. Peterson obviously was enjoying this role and it showed. Raven Janoski as Suzanne has a unique stage presence and with her slick wardrobe change easily received the attention from the audience. She was flawless and powerful. Matt Orr as Sagot had his moment while flashing his endearing smile.

Eric Clavell as Picasso was brilliant with this complicated role. It is this part that drives the play, and Clavell was able to command the full attention of the audience as he delivered both his comedic and serious lines. Bravo Eric!

Mark Ahrens as Schmendiman explodes onto the stage with his good looks and unique charisma. His big smile warmed the audience. Jennifer Eager as Countess also had a certain panache and an ability to project sophisticated presence.

Michael Ruggierre as a super star visitor from the 1950's was comical, as if he had played this part on a live Vegas stage. Kelly Crowley as Female Admirer, along with Samantha Payne-Markel as Female Admirer, both were excellent delivering their punch lines.

Dave Sheer, who handled the Light Design was flawless, as was Michelle Messinger, who handled the set and prop design. Matt Eager was the Stage Manager.

The applause was genuine and well deserved as the actors once again delivered the type of performance that the actors on the North Fork always deliver once the house lights go down and the stage lights go up at historical North Fork Community Theater.

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