'Moon Over Buffalo'

Chaos ensues when two aging thespians, Charlotte and George Hay, grasp an opportunity to become film stars. In "Moon Over Buffalo," fate brings a famous movie director to see the Hays' performance at a theatrical house in Buffalo, N.Y., but the couple isn't exactly the Lunts.

"More like Abbott and Costello," says Gwen Overland, who is directing Camelot Theatre's production of Ken Ludwig's comedy set in 1953. "As Ethel (Charlotte Hay's nearly deaf mother) says in the play, 'This is like living in an asylum on the warden's day off.' "

"Moon Over Buffalo" opens Friday, Feb. 5, at Camelot. The show previews Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 3 and 4, and a fundraising performance for Soroptimist Internation will be presented Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Ludwig's play is an ensemble piece that centers around the Hay family. There's Charlotte and George, played by Livia Genise and Doug Warner; Ethel, played by Kristi Abart; Rosalind, the Hay's daughter who left theater for a normal life, played by Tai Sammons; Paul, the stage manager and Rosalind's ex-fiancée, played by Brandon Byron Manley; Howard, Rosalind's new fiancée, played by Brian O'Connor; Richard, an attorney who is hopelessly in love with Charlotte, played by Jack Seybold; and Eileen, a young actress who has a romantic interest in George, played by Shannon McReynolds.

"They call each other names, they fight and they play tricks on each other," Overland says. "In spite of all of the family's foibles, what holds them together is the ability to laugh at themselves. Charlotte and George know that their profession is second to their love for each other."

Overland has directed many plays and musicals at Camelot Theatre, including "Zorba," "Promises, Promises," "Spotlight on Judy Garland," "Master Class," "Wait Until Dark" and "Enchanted April." She also part acting roles in Camelot's "Cabaret," "The Sisters Rosensweig" and "Carnival."

"The members of this cast and I have known each other for a long time," Overland says. "But this piece has brought us closer. It's as if some of the glue that holds the Hay family together has oozed onto us."

Genise, founder and artistic director of the Camelot Theatre Company, appears in a wide range of roles in Camelot productions. Warner, who is the former producing director at Mendocino Theatre Company in California, has a substantial number of acting and directing credits at Camelot.

O'Connor, a local radio personality, began appearing in the theater's shows in 2006. Abart, Seybold, Sammons and Brandon Byron Manley also are veterans of Camelot's shows. McReynolds has appeared in Camelot's "Into the Woods," "Spitfire Grill" and "Shenandoah." She also performs with local country rock band Cleopatra and the Nile River Boys and with Elvis impersonator Clint Ingbretson.

As for "Moon Over Buffalo," Overland says she leaves rehearsal every night with her sides aching from laughing.

"You know you've hit the big time when you're playing a tacky theatrical house in Buffalo," Overland quips. "But the Hays have stuck together through thick and thin ... and things are a bit thin in Buffalo."

The production team for "Moon Over Buffalo" includes costume designer Barbara Rains, set designer, properties master and master carpenter Don Zastoupil, lighting designer Bart Grady and sound designer Brian OConnor. Roy Rains is the production assistant, stage management is by Taja Watkins and fight choreography is by U. Jonathon Toppo.

For tickets, visit www.camelottheatre.org, call 541-535-5250 or stop by the box office between 1 and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday or one hour before performances.

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