The good news is that Theatre 40’s production of the classic William Inge play, Bus Stop, is the best show I’ve ever seen in this iconic Beverly Hills theatre! And I’ve seen a lot of their works over the past five years or so. The bad news is that sadly, this is the last week of the run. So I highly recommend that you go see it while you still can. It’s the easiest theater experience in town!
Before I laud it all more specifically, I have to tell you this: I was feeling a tad bad that I couldn’t make it to the opening night, (we bon vivettes are always overbooked,) not because of missing the after-party, but because I could have given you all more time to see this show. But I’m absolutely thrilled that I chose this particular day to see it because there was a handsome gent sitting across the aisle from me. And he turned-out to be…Don Murray, the original Oscar-nominated cowboy in the film!!! OMG! (I’m glad I didn’t realize it until he was celebrated after the show because I would have just watched him the whole time, instead of the stage!)
Now getting back to my review of this production, it’s perfect on every level—the casting, the set, the staging, the direction, even the wardrobe.
Someone did me a favor right when I sat down, by letting me know that nothing sad happens in the play. So I’m paying it forward to those of you who, like me, might assume that there would be a fair degree of heartbreak since the movie version of Bus Stop stars Marilyn Monroe. And it’s written by William Inge, most of whose works are way too angst-filled for me. I would have been a nervous wreck the whole time otherwise, waiting for the scenario to all go south.
So I was happy to discover that this is mainly a charming comedy. Now I feel bad that I’ve eschewed every version of it my whole life! If the others were as good as Theatre 40’s rendition of Bus Stop, I’ve really missed-out. I’m thrilled to have finally rectified that decision.
The experience is welcoming from the minute one enters the theatre. Jeff Rack’s ’50s diner set is his best one ever. And that’s saying something! I wanted to belly-up to the counter and order a ham and cheese on rye.
Outside of that, I don’t know where to begin my specific observations of Bus Stop. But being my shallow self, I have to say that I’m happy that two cute guys are in it! I’ve seen them in other productions here, but this is both of their best work so far. Shawn Savage is spot-on as the town sheriff. He reminded me of all my cute cop pals in Aspen, (who were kind enough to only make believe that they going to take me in!,) so he’s very believable in this role.
And Nico Boles is absolutely adorable as Bo, the naive cowboy. On top of that, he drinks a whole bottle of milk on stage!!! (I didn’t actually witness him do that, because our attention was directed elsewhere, but it was put down in front of him right in the front of the stage, and a few minutes later, I noticed that it was empty! There was no place he could have thrown it out, like in a plant, so he must have downed the whole thing! Or maybe it was just white water. But it sure looked like the real thing. I want to see this show again just to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, not the bottle.)
While I’m on the actors, let me give props to the entire excellent cast. But the stand-out for me is Mani Yarosh. She impressed me so much as the smart, young, hick waitress; I can see her working in the biz for a long time to come.
It’s all brought cleverly together by director Ann Hearn Tobolowsky. Her staging, which I’m sure was a very tricky proposition from the get-go, is perfection! It’s not easy to keep eight characters moving around pretty realistically at all times, and she accomplishes that feat beautifully.
On a personal note, I sometimes wish that I lived in simpler times like the ones portrayed in this show. I occasionally wish that I could just pick-up a phone, (a land line, of course,) and simply say something like, “Mabel? Get me Doc.” (Well, I guess I can say that to Siri. But you know what I mean.) But one line in this show made me happy I was not around in those days. The woman who owns the diner that houses the action tells her young waitress that guys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are. That means that I would have had no dates back then! I’m glad that most of the males I’ve known through my life are more evolved than that.
I just hope that everyone is smart enough to go see Bus Stop at Theatre 40 this week! Tickets to this show would make a wonderful holiday gift, to both your guests and yourself!!! You can thank me later.