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THEATER / JAN HERMAN : A Real Humdinger : Costa Mesa Civic Wrings Significant Fun From Trivial but Charming 'Bells Are Ringing'

May 07, 1993|JAN HERMAN

The Playhouse has gone to the trouble of installing a turntable stage for scene changes. It turns slowly and grinds in the process. But you don't mind waiting because you are rewarded with visual jokes that work, even if they're unintended. (When the Susanswerphone office disappears from view, Jeff Moss's miniaturized studio apartment comes round, looking so tiny that only Tom Thumb could live there.)

The intended scenic jokes also show lots of humor, including an agent's swank living room (complete with a trompe l'oeil view of Manhattan's skyscrapers) and the riotously pink Pyramid Club. And the amusing costumes lend just the right '50s aura to the show, bringing this colorful production's skewed physical proportions back to reality.

"Bells Are Ringing" may be trivial. But it's fun. Bravo to director Pati Tambellini for that.

* "Bells Are Ringing," Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse, 661 Hamilton St., Costa Mesa. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends Sunday. $15. (714) 650-5269. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes. Joni Emily: Sue

Erin Lord: Gwynne

Blaire Chandler: Ella Peterson

Marc Marger: Carl, dancer

Marvin Tamen: Inspector Barnes

Lisa Stover: Frances, dancer

Robert Blankenship: Sandor

Greg Ricks: Jeff Moss

Robert Lupo: Larry Hastings

Richard June: Doctor Kitchell

Randy Holand: Blake Barton

Cheryl Newcomer: Olga, dancer

Christopher Steeves: Smiley, dancer

A Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse production. Book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Music by Jule Styne. Directed by Pati Tambellini. Musical direction by Anita Metz Grossman. Choreographer: Majori Goldzaband. Stage manager: Loretta Lupo. Scenic design by Steeve Jacobs. Lighting by Mark Andrew. Costumes by Lupo, Tambellini, Pat Tompkins and Doris Wainek.

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