Jake's Women, theatre review, entertainment

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"Jake's Women"

Skittering towards the hinterlands, among the lush citrus groves, between Los Angeles and Ventura is Santa Paula Theatre Center, which is currently offering Neil Simon's "Jake's Women". The professionalism of its star Ronald Rezac, as Jake is one that conjures all his past relationships with the women in his life. His deftness and lightheartedness at fantasizing what effect each had on his incredibly hyper life as a writer (Neil Simon's counterpart) is astounding.

There is Karen, his sister played by Leslie Nichols, which after you get past her ridiculous first act outfit, even though a line in the script refers to the Bette Midler outfit, it still too distracting. The purple leotards and tennis shoes would have been enough but that ugly distracting dress and frumpy yellow collar with earrings that dangle beyond sonic booms are a bit much. Thank God, her ensuing costumes are more in keeping with this intelligent actress. Her acid tongue and swiveled chair and body movements are hilarious in a wicked sibling rivalry way.

The elegant Virginia Streat, as Edith, a therapist of sorts, gives her the opportunity to display comedic talents of an apple delicious, being burnished gold with glints of what sex should be, her outfits are by far the best designed and can she handle a line or a curve with equanimity. Mary Super plays Maggie, Jake's current wife. She is the only real woman in Jake's life that he cannot call back into his life with his wondrous black magic. Mary is done a disservice by Neil Simon's bad writing, fortunately she rises above the material. Her white and pink persona leaves you with the feeling of the martyr housewife or why husbands leave home or wives depart. She is too good an actress to be wasted in a thankless role.

The electrifying, energetic Rezac does a number and a half on Jeanie Hays which is the surprise of the show by reacting to Ronald Rezac's unbelievable ranting rage and verbal rape. A horrific exit by the clunking high heeled shoes as she exits give us a humorous lift. Kim Little, is a beautiful Grace Kelly type, she will bear watching. It is always refreshing to find a young beauty with brains. Erin Cariker, as Molly, a 12 year old and later, Jennifer Leonardo at 21, bring out the loving, caring father in Rezac's performance. Of course the scene that sends shivers down your spine is so unexpected that the handling in less capable hands would have been ruined. In Ronald Rezac, he lifts it to the frightening moment of the well of loneliness and the fear of being alone, when he can't conjure any one of his women to come back. He stands alone on the stage calling their names and no one comes. It is chilling!

The multilevel set by Jeff C. Rack serves the action brilliantly, (is it Art Deco or Art Nouveau, or a combination?) at any rate it enhances all the action. Gerald Castillo has directed the comedy, which could have easily been mired in dramatic chaos, with consummate passion

"Jake's Women"
Santa Paula Theatre Center
125 S Seventh St.
Santa Paula, California
Week ends through Oct. 26, 1997
Box-Office: (805) 525-4645

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Original Date Wednesday 1 October 1997
Updated Wednesday 1 October 1997