Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cesar Gamino as Nervous Nice Guy?

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I’d arrived at the Sunset Playhouse a bit early. The show wasn’t set to start for another half hour, so I nestled into the lobby and waited with an MGD Lite from the concessons stand. The wall between both entrances to the Sunset’s Furlan Auditorium, usually filled with photos of cast and crew members, was largely blank. Their latest show is a production of the Bernard Slade romantic comedy Same Time Next Year—there are only two actors in the cast. It was kind of a surprise to see that one of them was Cesar Gamino.



Same Time Next Year follows a man and a woman who engage in an annual extramarital affair. Doris (Sarah Laak Hughes) and George (Gamino) each have different reasons for being out of town in the same hotel at the same time every year, but  as things progress, the relationship between the two of them ends up gaining significance over the years. The likeability of the two characters is essential to the likeability of the play as a whole. As the play opens, George is a nervous nice guy who realizes he has made a colossal mistake in having sex with another woman. The nice guy nervousness is something that seems quite a bit out of character for Gamino, who carries more of an active, aggressive charisma offstage. Particularly at the beginning of the story, the character of George sees more suited to someone with a nice-guy nervous innocence about him—in local actor terms, it’d feel much more comfortable to see Jason Powell playing a role like that . . .(Powell is great with roles like that) . . .  it doesn’t seem as believable on Gamino, but thankfully the play sees these characters through choice moments over the course of two an a half decades. The characters change considerably from scene to scene and Gamino seems much more at home with the character in the ‘70’s than he does through much of the ‘50’s . . . the moustache and sideburns help considerably in one scene, serving almost as a third character . . . 

 The Sunset Playhouse
production of Same Time Next Year runs through March 21st. A comprehensive review of the show appears in this week’s Shepherd-Express.

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