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The Miser

Director Ellen Geer delivers a hilarious and highly polished production of Molière’s comedy, The Miser. It’s a faithful rendition, despite the fact that she’s garnished it with several original songs (written with Peter Alsop), a dog and some creative anachronisms: Neither codpieces nor horn-rimmed glasses quite belong in 1668, but they prove capital laugh-getters. The production’s greatest asset is Alan Blumenfeld, who delivers a wonderfully demented, larger-than-life performance as the miser Harpagon, calling on the traditions of music-hall, vaudeville and burlesque to create a portrait of monstrous greed and vanity. He’s ably assisted by Mike Peebler as his rebellious, clothes-horse son Cleante, Melora Marshall as the flamboyant match-maker/bawd Frosine, Ted Barton as a choleric cook/coachman, and Mark Lewis as Cleante’s sly, wily sidekick, La Fleche. As the young lovers, Peebler, Samara Frame, Chad Jason Scheppner, and understudy Jennifer Schoch capture the requisite romance while lampooning the coincidences and shop-worn theatrical conventions of the genre, and a large cast provides fine support. The lavish costumes, including Cleante’s outrageous suit-of-too-many-colors, with its gloriously obscene, giggle-inducing codpiece, are by Shon LeBlanc and Valentino’s Costumes. Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 North Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Topanga; thru September 27; in rep, call for schedule. (310) 455-3723.
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 8, 4 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 22, 4 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. Starts: July 25. Continues through Sept. 25, 2009

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