By PAM HARBAUGH
If it’s hard to find parking weekends in Downtown Melbourne right now, you can thank Melbourne Civic Theatre. That’s because it’s newest offering, the comedy farce “Funny Money,” was nearly sold out before it opened.
This motif is growing from recurring to annoyingly repetitive for people who delay getting tickets.
Written by farce-meister Ray Cooney, “Funny Money” runs at MCT through Feb. 25. Just as Cooney has a well-deserved reputation for being the go-to person when you’re looking for funny farces, MCT director Peg Girard has the same well-deserved reputation for being the go-to person when you’re looking for farces that are well done.
Indeed, over the years, Girard has mounted at least one farce, usually more, per season.
Although Girard hates talking seriously about herself, she did allow that “Honestly, I think I was just born with a funny gene.”
Like Cooney’s other farces, such as “Out of Order” and “Move Over Mrs. Markham,” Cooney’s play “Funny Money” is awash with slamming doors, mistaken identity and rising confusion, giving audiences a “comic spectacle,” Girard said.
The story revolves around milquetoast accountant Henry Perkins (Steve Costner). It begins when he picks up the wrong briefcase which is filled with money.
Assuming the money comes from criminal activity, Henry decides to keep it. However, he also is smart enough to realize his own briefcase is now in the possession of the person he assumes is a criminal and thus someone who will track down Henry.
So he decides to leave town and head to Barcelona with his confused wife, Jean (Victoria Smith). A sudden doorbell announces the arrival of the police (Randy Caldwell and Terrence Girard) and the beginning of Henry’s chaotic attempt to weave a complex tale.
Other featured characters include Henry’s friends, Vic and Betty (Peter Olander and Sarabeth Dawson).
Girard, who grew up watching Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, works her cast to keep the play clipping along. Her farce credo is “pace and energy.”
“I look at the talent of my cast and I use all my favorite mad cap moves,” she said.
The theater is considering added performances throughout the week, so if you don’t have your tickets, stay tuned.
“Funny Money” runs through Feb. 25 at Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $29 and $31. Call 321-723-6935, visit MyMCT.org
This is an edited version of a story running the Melbourne Beachsider.