BREAKING NEWS — MCT has just added a performance 2 p.m. Feb. 13. The show is close to selling out completely.
By PAM HARBAUGH
Director Peg Girard and a cast filled with some of Brevard’s funniest actors are having their way with “The Underpants,” a silly bit of German melodrama on stage now at Melbourne Civic Theatre.
None other than Steve Martin adapted this comedy from Carl Sternheim’s 1910 play “Die Hose.” And indeed, you can see the comedian’s wacky take on a play that ridicules Teutonic sensibilities.
Set in the Maske household in 1910 Dusseldorf, Germany, the story concerns a hausfrau, Louise (a beguiling Tori Terhune), whose bloomers fall to her ankles during a parade celebrating Kaiser Wilhelm II. Louise’s imperious husband, Theo (a gruff Pete Jacobsen) is beside himself with disappointment in his young wife allowing her bloomers to fall and worry that he will lose his government job because of the shame he now bears.
He is not too far off the mark. Two men who witnessed the scandalous event become smitten with the woman and rent a room from the Maskes. They are: an overwrought romantic poet, Versati (funny, breast-beating Glenn ‘Kraz’ Krasny) and a barber named Cohen (a perfectly cast Doug Sontag). Both actors nail the overblown, caricature style acting needed in this extreme example of comic melodrama.Moving the story along are a nosy neighbor, Gertrude (delightfully bawdy Victoria Smith), and another renter, a strange man named Klinglehoff (a daffy David Hill).
“The Underpants” takes plenty of pokes at turn of the century German bourgeois society, including ethnic bigotry and the distorted structure of men and women. Indeed, “Die Hose” was supposed to open in 1911 but was banned because of its indelicate subject matter. (Source, Actors Theatre of Louisville)
Interestingly, Herr Sternheim’s father was Jewish and his mother was Lutheran. Sternheim became a Protestant and later a Catholic to marry his first of three wives. He was reportedly influenced by Moliere farces, which is so fitting for MCT since the theater company will be producing next Moliere’s “Tartuffe.”
Photos by Max Thornton.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “The Underpants” runs through Feb. 28 at Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $25 general and $23 seniors, military and students. There is a $3 service fee for tickets paid by credit card. Student stand-by tickets are $12.50 and available five minutes prior to curtain (if there are any tickets left, that is). Call 321-723-6935, visit MyMCT.org or simply click onto the ad on the right side of this page.