“Last of the Red Hot Lovers” produced by the Walnut Theater takes us back to the 1960s in a production that’s full of laughter and hope for love.
On Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Keene State College’s main theatre at the Redfern Arts Center, The Walnut Street Theatre brought “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” to the stage. The play is set in the late 1960s and centers around a man named Barney Cashman, played by Fran Prisco. Barney is a restaurant owner who wears a clean-cut blue suit every day and refuses to wear anything else. He lives a “nice” life with Velma, his wife of 23 years, and his three children.
The play opens in the setting of an older-looking apartment, that later is identified as Barney’s mother’s apartment. Barney’s mother volunteers two times a week at the hospital in town.
Fran Prisco, the actor who plays Barney, described the play and his co-star. “It’s about a man trying to have an affair with three completely different women. My dear friend Karen does an excellent job playing all three women. Originally, there’s three different actresses that play the parts, but it was our director’s idea to do it with the one woman and I think she does a fantastic job. She plays them so well, it doesn’t make my life very difficult,” he stated.
Karen Peakes plays Elaine, Bobbi and Jeanette, who all have different personalities. The audience had a range of ages from college students to elder senior citizens, and by the end, the entire crowd was in fits of laughter.
Professor Jeannie-Marie Brown had her playwriting class attend the production for a better understanding of playwriting. “Attending live performances provides insight into how the structure of a play works, how actors impact the written word of the playwright, the role of the audience and what type of material resonates on a stage,” she stated.
She also commented on the character development and said it is “the ability to critically identify if you care about the characters, feel drawn to this particular form or can identify with the playwright on any level as a writer. I hope students develop strong opinions substantiated with clear arguments to help them on their journey of creative thinking,”she stated.
“We ran Last of the Red Hot Lovers with the Walnut Theatre for four weeks and closed that on Sunday. They set up the set yesterday while we drove up. And then, we (the actors) came to the set today, to put it all together and did the show,” said Prisco.
Prisco also discussed his next travels. “We are leaving tonight and going up to Maine to perform again there tomorrow night. Then, we’ll be going to Massachusetts after that performance, so we’re just going to drive right into the storm,” Prisco stated.
KSC junior Adam Filkins attended the Wednesday showing. “I did like the play. The actors both were very good, and the woman was absolutely superb,” Filkins said. “The script, set and actors were all very professional, and the delivery that the performers had were always spot on. The crowd loved it too. There were plenty of moments when the whole audience was laughing hysterically, and I think, by far, my favorite moments were when the woman actor was on stage.”
Grace Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org