“The Sensuous Senator” Opening Play for the 2016-17 Season at Mud Creek
Writer / Ray Compton
“I want to bring to my part as Sen. (Harry) Douglas what I would try to be as a senator, except for the philandering part,” said Marra, a standout at several local theaters. “I want to portray the senator as a well-intentioned politician but who is cursed with an overactive ego and libido.”
And actress Sherry Compton, who plays the wife and subsequent victim of Douglas’ skirt-chasing scandal, vows that she is also not impersonating past or current members of the wives’ club of Washington politicians.
“I’m really not trying to take after anyone in particular,” said Compton, who has performed in “Lend Me a Tenor” and other Mud Creek Players performances. “I am focusing on the qualities of Lois as a loyal and naïve wife.”
Thus, if you check out “The Sensuous Senator” this month at the Mud Creek Barn, there will be missing elements such as impersonators trying to copy Bill Clinton, John Kennedy and Gary Hart who strayed frequently from their Washington bedrooms. But not absent from the night will be the belly laughs as spectators witness a hoard of politicians and their wandering moments in this wildly entertaining two-hour comedy from author Michael Parker (“Sex Please, We’re 60”).
Parker hatched the play in 1998 during the Clinton years in the White House. Reviewers have praised the script, noting audiences “barely had time to catch a breath between laughs.”
The story revolves around Douglas who has decided to run for President on a “morality” platform. But when wife Lois leaves to attend a conference in Chicago, Douglas moves quickly in inviting his secretary and secret lover Veronica (Stephanie Cole) over to his home.
But after being unable to connect with Veronica, the sex-starved Douglas calls an escort service and books a voluptuous lassie named Fiona (Nicole Bridgens of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” fame). Chaos breaks out when two other Congressmen (played by longtime character actor and director Paul B. Haskin and rising star Justin Lyon of Tom Jones) unexpectedly arrive and add confusion to Douglas’ sexual playground.
Added to the storyline are a reporter (Margie Worrell) from the popular grocery store newspaper (the National Intruder) and a challenged law enforcement member (Tom Riddle).
As the play roars into the second act with the return of Lois from her aborted trip to Chicago, the senator’s bedroom features scantily clad women and red-handed and red-faced politicians.
This one may not be for young children.
“It is a rollicking bedroom farce,” reported the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
And a newspaper in Midland, Texas, jumped in with both feet, hailing the show with “two thumbs up … the funniest stage play in recent memory.”
So, the locals will have big shoes to fill. This assignment falls to Arlene Haskin who has acted in over 60 plays but sits in the director’s chair for the first time.
“It’s different being on that side of the stage,” she confessed.
The Haskins lassoed the rights to “The Sensuous Senator” and sold the idea to the Drama Committee at the Barn. There was no accident that the pitch came in 2016.
“It’s an election year, and it seemed very timely,” the director said. “We think people need a break from this year’s election and a chance to laugh. They can expect a good time.”
And the audience will need to expect order to the actions on the stage.
“Timing is critical,” admitted Arlene. “When someone goes up the steps, another person has to come down the steps. When someone exits the stage, another person enters the stage.”
“Timing is everything when you do a farce,” said the 29-year-old Bridgens, a native of Beech Grove who turned to acting and dancing after suffering two broken wrists from a fall as a cheerleader as a youngster.
Parker is not afraid to tackle salacious double meanings of words and dropping in tasty lines involving sexual content.
“There is a lot of sexual innuendo, and it is very sexy at times,” said Bridgens, who acknowledges that she is “a touchy, feely person, so I love my character.”
Bridgens also lauds the work of Haskin.
“She knows what she is doing,” said Bridgens. “She has been a great teacher.”
Meanwhile, the wandering senator is played by Marra, a real life 69-year-old financial planner whose graceful strands of gray hair adds to his character. He, too, admits that the timing of action in the bedroom and elsewhere will be critical in earning crowd approval.
“The timing of the gags has to be spot on,” Marra conceded. “There are so many (gags) that getting blocked out and rehearsed thoroughly will be critical to the success of the show.”
Though there are no parts for the Three Stooges or Marx Brothers, there are frantic and almost slapstick highlights in “The Sensuous Senator.”
“The last scene is really cute and funny,” assessed Marra. “You have to stay to the end.”
And Arlene Haskin believes that Marra will earn laughs and praise from the audience.
“He reminds me some of Gary Hart (former senator of Colorado whose presidential campaign was derailed when he spotted on a boat named Monkey Business with his girlfriend, Donna Rice),” said Haskin. “Ronan is perfect for this role. He looks like he could be a president.”
Meanwhile, newcomer Cole fulfills the need for a sexy secretary to Douglas.
“She’s very sexy, and she’s madly in love with Harry,” Haskin said. “She can’t type, but she can do other things well.”
And there’s more hijinks. One scene features older congressman (Salt) coaching young congressman (Maguire) some tricks of the trade. Compton’s portrayal of Lois brings a note of seriousness, though she receives the imaginary pie to the face when she unexpectedly wanders into her husband’s second workplace.
“Harry’s sensuous weekend turns into his great personal and political nightmare,” Compton remarked.
Missing from the play will be persons named Clinton, Trump and Blitzer. We think.