Clap if you believe in enchantment!
Audiences are certainly enjoying “Enchanted April,” the final production of its 10th season. Keep in mind, for it to work you need to suspend disbelief when you take in this tale of two women who flee London rain and neglectful husbands for a month of sunshine and wisteria at an Italian castle on the Mediterranean.
But the story is as warm as the Italian sun and the Citadel cast embraces it con gusto. Jamie Lee Kearns plays an ever-hopeful, if slightly over the top Lotty Wilton, who first spots a London Times “advert” about an Italian castle for rent. She persuades the reluctant and very repressed Rose Arnott, played by Kelly Farmer, to accompany her, and to keep down the cost, they advertise for two women to join them.
The women who sign on could not be more different. One is Lady Caroline Bramble, played by Katherine Biskupic, last season’s Amy in “Little Women,” who is perfect in this part. Lady Caroline is a flapper tired of men groping her and going gaga over her good looks. Marilyn Baldwin, channeling British characters actresses, portrays Mrs. Graves, a widow walking with a cane and living in the past.
Italy transforms them all. Lotty and Rose invite their husbands, Ross Frawley and Gerald Nevin respectively, both Citadel veterans. Lady Caroline pairs up with the gentle owner of the castle, Anthony Wilding, played by Matthew Gall.
Even livelier than Lotty, is Rita Simon, who plays Constanza, the castle’s housekeeper and cook. The program notes state “Rita always wanted to be Italian, and tonight she is.” Though her Constanza is an obvious stereotype, she and the audience have so much fun we can’t fault her.
Citadel’s artistic director Scott Phelps directs this charming story and Christine Kneisel’s sets —gray and bare in London, colorful and abundant in Italy—belie the size of the Citadel stage. Every one of the 150 seats in the arena-style theater has good sight lines, and there are acres of free parking.
“Enchanted April” runs weekends through Sunday, May 26 in the theater at Lake Forest High School’s west campus, 300 S. Waukegan Road. General admission tickets cost $35 per person Thursdays and Sundays, and $37.50 Fridays and Saturdays. Call 847-735-8554 or purchase tickets online.
Editor’s note: Citadel has announced its 2013-14 season: “How We Got On” by Idris Goodwin, September 21-October 20; Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” adaption by Margaret Lewis, November 29-December 29; “Hospitality Suite” by Roger Rueff, February 7-March 9, 2014; “Cabaret” by Kander and Ebb’s, April 25 to May 25, 2014.