The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves scratches a fun “Seven Year Itch”
By Chuck Lavazzi
Many of us are familiar with the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch” starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell (who reprised his stage role as Richard Sherman, the philandering husband with the aforementioned itch). The film contains one of the most iconic pop-culture images of the 20th century – Monroe standing on a subway grate as her white dress is blown upwards by a passing train, the play, however, does not. But take heart, the stage version is significantly racier than the film and undoubtedly would not have made it past the censors in 1955.
The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves is closing their 96th Season with this raunchy (but not too raunchy) rom-com. “The Seven Year Itch” is a fun little comedy and the women have just as much power as the men (yay!). Director Kyle Morr cleverly scales back the cast of five men, five women, and one boy to three men and two women covering all the roles. On stage for the entire two plus hours and demonstrating a herculean effort is Jeff Lovell as Richard Sherman, the wandering husband alone for the summer in his family’s New York apartment. When he meets his new upstairs neighbor, a beautiful actress twenty years his junior, all his resolve to stop drinking, smoking, and look at other women, goes right out the window. Ellen Klasing as the neighbor is an absolute delight. She amps up the energy on stage immediately with every entrance and her pacing brings out the best in her scene partners. The cast is rounded out nicely with community theatre veterans Dennis Crump, Jessica Kelly, and David C. Zimmermann.
Nathan Olvey does a neat trick with the lights letting us know when we are in the reality of Richard’s life and when we are in his imagination. I only wish the scenes on the patio had been less in the dark. The sound effects of Richard’s and the neighbor’s conscience are also a nice touch, though a bit distorted from where I sat.
One of the great aspects of community theatre is the absolute community-ness of it. There are true fans in the audience loving the cast, crew, and every amount of effort that goes into making that bit of magic happen. Yes, there may be uneven performances, and less than perfect sets or costumes, but there is always so much support and joy in the space it’s pretty tough not to have a great time.
“The Seven Year Itch” at The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves runs through May 13th. For information go The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves website.