Bethlehem Press

Monday, October 15, 2018

Theater Review: ‘Fairway’ links comedy to the fore at Pa. Playhouse

Monday, June 4, 2018 by CAROLE GORNEY Special to The Press in Focus

You don’t have to know anything about golf to enjoy the Pennsylvania Playhouse’s zany production of “The Fox on the Fairway,” continuing through June 17. You just need to sit back and enjoy the hilarity.

Written by Tony-Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig, “The Fox on the Fairway” is a farce about two country club rivals and the absurd bet they make on the outcome of a golf match. The dubious lengths one of the men goes to keep from losing the bet leads to uproarious consequences.

Director George B. Miller, whose credits include 45 years in theater and film, has fine-tuned every scene to keep up the frenetic pace. During the opening night performance June 1, seen for this review, Miller’s talented cast hardly missed a beat as they wove their characters through one precarious development after another.

Brian Welsko, as the young golfer Justin Hicks, is the script’s designated comedian in terms of lines and physical antics. Welsko plays it to the hilt, generating laughter just walking around the stage. His gyrations in preparing to tee off at the start of the golf tournament are not to be missed.

Pat Kelly (Henry Bingham) and John Corl (“Dickie” Bell) are the perfect pair of rivals. Kelly is every bit the John-Cleese-type victim for whom nothing seems to go right. Corl is the textbook arrogant schemer who tricks Bingham into the bet, then thinks there is no way he can lose.

Jeanie Olah, playing “Dickie’s” ex-wife Pamela Peabody, adds a sophisticated and good-natured sexual flair to the proceedings.

The action takes place in the Tap Room at Quail Valley Country Club. The stunning set designed by Brett Oliveira is furnished appropriately in leather chairs, painted in muted colors, accentuated with stately columns and finished off with a stash of liquor bottles on the bar. Nothing could be more appropriate, except the equally appropriate costumes designed by Kate Scuffle. A highlight is Hicks’ golf outfit.

From directing to acting to technical aspects, there’s no doubt that the Pennsylvania Playhouse’s latest production of “The Fox on the Fairway” has hit a hole in one.

Tickets: Pennsylvania Playhouse Box Office, 390 Illick’s Mill Road, Bethlehem; paplayhouse.org; 610-865-1192