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No argument: 'Squabbles' hilarious hit

Culture corner

January 28, 2009
Many of us get cold chills at just the thought of things like having our fingernails pulled out by a pair of rusty pliers or getting a root canal or getting a call from the IRS wanting to see the receipts for the 23 Veg-a-Matics and six George Foreman Grills we claimed we gave to Goodwill. But, the ultimate bone-chiller is the thought of a mother-in-law or father-in-law moving in with us.

J.R. Stuart and Rita Thomas put in flawless performances as Abe Dreyfus and Mildred Sloan in Derby Dinner Playhouse's production of "Squabbles." (Photo courtesy of Derby Dinner Playhouse)
In a new play at Derby Dinner Playhouse, "her" father and "his" mother — who absolutely detest each other — move in with the expected consequences.

"Squabbles" starts out funny, leads up to hilarious, and ends with heart-warming charm. The play, directed by Bekki Jo Schneider, weaves a story of a couple, Jerry and Alice Sloan (Cary Wiger and Janet Essenpreis), who share their home with her father, Abe Dreyfus (J.R. Stuart).

Things go well until Janet becomes pregnant, requiring Abe to move to the guest bedroom, and Jerry's mother, Mildred (Rita Thomas), calls to say that her house has burned and she doesn't have anywhere to live. Of course, Jerry can't say no to his mother in her time of need and invites her to move in, too.

It's all downhill from there.

The parents spar over everything, even after Jerry and Alice lay out some rules for them to follow. Each one is jealous of the other and tries to undermine every effort to reach a truce. However, when Alice begins feeling labor pains and she and Jerry spend a few days at the hospital, the parents pull together long enough to realize they can be something other than enemies.

Both Wiger and Essenpreis turn in great performances, but Rita Thomas and J.R. Stuart, both regulars on the Derby Dinner stage, are flawless. The characters they portray in "Squabbles" seem to have been created just for them. If these two actors don't make you laugh until you cry, you should have your pulse checked to make sure you're still with us. David Meyers, who plays neighbor Sol Wasserman, and Jennifer Lauletta, who is the baby's nursemaid, Mrs. Fisher, are also wonderful additions to the cast.

"Squabbles" will be at Derby Dinner through Feb. 15. For tickets and show times, call 1-812-288-8281. Each ticket comes with a delicious buffet-style meal.

Derby Dinner Playhouse is located at 525 Marriott Drive in Clarksville, across from Tom Stinnett RV.

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