The second show in Season 55 at the Jewel Box Theatre consists of two one acts rather than the usual two-act play. The two shows “The Ugly Duckling” by A. A. Milne and “Sorry, Wrong Number” by Lucille Fletcher. Director, Chuck Tweed uses one cast for both shows giving the audience a nice opportunity to see different facets and talents of actors in in one evening.
“The Ugly Duckling” is a favorite for the general audience not limited to children although the kids love anything Milne. The story is familiar to most as the lovely young princess is not considered beautiful until she meets the love that allows her beauty to shine through.
Paul Smith has a wonderfully unique cadence in his speech, but his deliberate and distinctive delivery does not lend itself to dialogue and, as a result “The Ugly Duckling” comes across as choppy. Jackie Smola as Queen is quite amusing, and the young ladies Allyson Rose as The Princess (wallflower) and Rachael Messer as Dulcibella (the pretty one) are both delightful. Clint Kubat plays the Prince and Tony DeGiusti is Carlo the servant, and those scenes with the royals falling in love with no assistance from their lackeys are rather nice. The Chancellor is played by Vincent Johns, and he is slightly stiff in his portrayal. While ordinarily these scenes should work well, the interchanges between Smith and Johns become uncomfortably due to the erratic pacing. Unfortunately without any flow “The Ugly Duckling” misses the mark by a tail feather.
After intermission Tweed directs “Sorry, Wrong Number” with the same cast. And the whole evening turns around. “Sorry, Wrong Number” is a short thriller about an invalid woman confined to her bed and home alone. While attempting to contact her husband, her call becomes crossed with another and she overhears what she believes must be a murder plot. She can do nothing but attempt to get help for the unknown victim from the telephone company and the police by phone.
Smola portrays the invalid, Mrs. Stevens, realistically and skillfully. Tweed’s direction allows her to build the suspense is this thriller with chilling results. Smith’s delivery is perfect for his role as Sgt. Duffy. Messer as several Information Operators is delightful as she develops several humorous operator characters. Rose is also a Telephone Operator as well as Mrs. Curtis and a Woman and each of her characters is also amusing and fun to watch. Clint Kubat as the Attendant and Tony Degiusti, the man from Western Union are both excellent. Vincent Johns develops George nicely. All of the characters are crucial in developing and maintaining the constant state of suspense that poor Mrs. Stevenson feels as her world begins to fall apart. This cast certainly supports the terror needed. Her movements are stiff in the way of a true invalid and her fear is palpable, permeating the stage with her terror. There are no missing tail feathers here!
A Night of One-Acts continues through October 28, 2012. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at 3700 N. Walker in uptown Oklahoma City. The box office is open Tuesday through Friday afternoons to take reservations at 405-521-1786. Also visit the website: jewelboxtheatre.org. “Sorry, Wrong Number” is definitely worth the visit.