WCLOC’s “One Slight Hitch” expresses Lewis Black’s inner, ‘dirtier’ Neil Simon


05 Feb

(Cover Photo of "One Slight Hitch" at WCLOC. Photo Credit: Christopher O'Connor)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

Contact: 774-242-6724


"One Slight Hitch"

By Lewis Black


WORCESTER - "One Slight Hitch" by Lewis Black. Presented by Worcester County Light Opera Company, 21 Grandview Avenue, Worcester. Performances: Feb, 7, 8, 13, 14 & 15 at 7:30pm, Feb. 9 & 16 at 2:00pm. Ticket prices $25.00 General Admission, $20.00 Seniors (62+) & Students. 

Written by Lewis Black. Directed by Jeremy Woloski.

Cast Includes: Luke Savage, Neal Martel, Norman Dubois, Krissi Forgues, Victoria Doughty, Maggie McCarthy, Caitlin Lahey


With Worcester County Light Opera’s latest offering, “One Slight Hitch,” we are given a glimpse into the more literate side of internationally renowned and politically irreverent entertainer Lewis Black.

According to the show’s director, Jeremy Woloski, the group (WCLOC) selected the play for a couple of reasons, the first being, “Name recognition of the playwright,” at least in the sense of his comedy. Another consideration, says Woloski, was, “The fact that it is a play that has not been produced in the area.”

“Lastly, (Black’s) biting wit and comedy are on full display in ‘One Slight Hitch,’” says Woloski. “After directing this, I will seek out some of his other stage work for possible productions.”

Woloski, who has been associated with WCLOC since around 2005, has performed and directed in the Worcester area since 1996. He is also performing arts department head for Burncoat Middle School for the Arts. In addition, Woloski runs his own production company “Braid Productions” with his wife.

Woloski admits he was unacquainted with Lewis Black the playwright as opposed to Lewis Black the comedian.

“To be perfectly honest, before reading this play, I was totally unaware that he had written ANY plays,” Woloski points out. “I was familiar with his books, stand up, and of course his many television and movie appearances. In fact about ten years ago or so I had the opportunity to see him on ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.’ He was the absolute highlight of the evening.”

With this experience, Woloski has been able to compare Black’s literal work to that of his stand-up comedy.

“I am very curious to read some of his other plays as I find that ‘One Slight Hitch’ is a more controlled work than some of his stand up,” Woloski says. 

It is true that Black’s stand-up routine, as Woloski points out, is reminiscent of the late comedian Sam Kinison, who pushed beyond many boundaries during his all-too brief career. As a writer, though, Woloski, based on Black’s “Hitch,” puts Black into the category of a “slightly dirtier Neil Simon.”

“Very good, witty jokes but I was overall surprised on how clean (Black) can be,” Woloski observes, but then confesses, “This doesn’t mean we didn’t do our best to ‘dirty the sheets’ so to say,” meaning to help maintain the cutting edge tone of Black’s trademark irreverent humor. Woloski emphasizes how the play comes across as a more modern, slightly edgier comedy reminiscent of late iconic playwright Simon.

“The one liners are set up in much the same way,” Woloski says. “Black, much like Simon, feels the need to squeeze monologues in whenever possible.  Both playwrights create stories that are grounded in reality because of the believability of the characters despite the situations they find themselves in.”

With both Simon and Black, Woloski says he believes, “some lines are not meant to be deep, just funny.”

“And I can understand why some actors might have trouble,” Woloski explains. “Whenever we had trouble, with delivery or interpretation of a line, we would often think of the cadence of Black’s voice and this would often lead to comedy.”

Among other WCLOC shows, Woloski has directed close to a hundred shows and countless Middle/High School shows over the past 25 years.  “One Slight Hitch,” according to Woloski, ranks “towards the top of at least the straight comedies.”

As Woloski elaborates, “It has elements of farce but it’s not quite that driven.”

 Victoria Doughty, Maggie McCarthy and Caitlin Lahey. Photo Credit: Christopher O'Connor The story, basically, is about a wedding day gone horribly wrong. Woloski elaborates on some of the creative challenges faced staging this show.

“The most difficult aspect of the show was being true to the decade in which it takes place while still being appealing to an audience in 2020,” Woloski describes. “The show is set in 1981, but we were a bit more liberal and used anything from 1978 to 1985 as reference points in everything to costumes, props as well as the mannerisms of the actors.” 

According to Woloski, the only truly challenging part was “to remember that many of the references were lost on our PB (Maggie McCarthy) who is only 16.” 

“We, as a cast, had a long conversation about how to hold and use a corded phone,” Woloski says.

It is a small cast show – seven characters altogether. Woloski talks about working with the players of this particular cast.

“This cast has been an absolute delight to work with - funny, dedicated, prepared and very hard working,” Woloski says. “This show is about a family, slightly dysfunctional one but still a family that cares for one another.”

Luke Savage, Neal Martel and Norman Dubois in "One Slight Hitch". Photo Credit: Christopher O'Connor

Woloski points out how the cast emulated this in every rehearsal, emphasizing their willingness to assist each other and “be the best they could be.” 

“I have been in shows where everyone was out for themselves and their moment in the spotlight,” Woloski says. “This is NOT the case with these seven talented actors.  I would work with them again in a second.”

Collectively, the cast brings a “unique personality” to the table in this staging, says Woloski, signifying how, in their interactions in the show, the cast comes across “perfectly natural as a family.”

“They have all put their own take on the material and, in a lot of ways, elevated it,” Woloski says in praise of his cast. “The bonds and connections that have been created feel real and that’s due to the hard work and dedication of the cast.”

Woloski hopes audiences, “will walk away with a smile on their faces for having joined this bunch of misfits on their most special chaotic, random, wonderful wedding day.” 

“For those that grew up in the 80s, this should be a welcome flashback to a simpler time.”

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 

CAST:

PB................................................................................. Maggie McCarthy
Doc........................................................................................ Neal Martel
Delia................................................................................... Krissi Forgues
Ryan......................................................................................Luke Savage
Courtney...............................................................................Caitlin Lahey
Melanie ..........................................................................Victoria Doughty
Harper............................................................................. Norman Dubois 


$25 - General Admission
$20 - Students/Seniors

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