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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Actors’ Summit stages ‘Bus Stop’

2/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Llewie Nunez and Dean Coutris star in Actors’ Summit’s romantic-comedy “Bus Stop.”
Photo courtesy of Actors’ Summit Theater
DOWNTOWN AKRON — From first-hand knowledge, we know the havoc a snowstorm brings. A snowstorm is the motivating factor in William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” which is playing at Actors’ Summit Theater through March 9.

The play is more than 50 years old and is typical of the plays and movies written in the 1950s.

Inge (1913-73) is remembered for “Come Back, Little Sheba,” “Picnic” and “Bus Stop.” He received an Academy Award for the script for “Splendor in the Grass.”

Actors’ Summit has resurrected “Bus Stop,” which groans with age. A snowstorm stalls out a bus at Grace’s Diner, a small restaurant and bus stop near Kansas City. The passengers hurry into the diner — Cherie (Llewie Nunez), a saloon singer, is attempting to escape the clutches of Bo Decker (Dean Coutris). Bo owns a ranch in Montana, has $6,000 in the bank and thinks Cherie is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. He wants to marry her. She wants nothing to do with him.

We know what will happen before the curtain call, but the pleasure is in watching how Bo woos Cherie and hoping they will find love.

Grace Hoylard (Elizabeth Lawson) runs the diner, which carries her name. She has a reputation for entertaining bus drivers in her upstairs apartment. Carl (Jim Fippin), the driver of this bus, spends a good deal of the play in Grace’s apartment.

Will Masters (Alex Nine) is the local sheriff and a deacon in the church. He keeps Bo in line and gives him a beautiful black eye. I’ve seen Nine in many plays over the years. He’s developed as an actor. In fact, I didn’t recognize him physically or vocally until I checked the program to know who was doing such a good job as the sheriff.

Nunez gives Cherie a sweet vulnerability that entices Bo and members of the audience to her side. Nunez makes Cherie not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but a woman with wisdom who knows how to play the king of hearts.

Unfortunately, director Ric Goodwin never got the rhythm and timing correct for “Bus Stop.” Too often cast members pause line delivery for stage business. The silences were disconcerting. This script is a romantic comedy and needs energy and pacing to keep the audience from thinking about some of the silly plot points. The performance lacked the finesse necessary to give the story the appropriate mood. Some of the performers dropped the ends of lines or raised their vocal pitch and lost the meaning of the lines.

This production lacks the satisfaction usually associated with the shows at Actors’ Summit.

For ticket information, call 330-374-7568.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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