“God’s Favorite” -Three Notch Theatre Review


I had the opportunity to see Neil Simon’s “God’s Favorite” performed at the Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park, MD. I am a big Neil Simon fan because of his humor and clever writing style, so I was excited to see this production.

Quick synopsis directly from the Three Notch Theatre website (https://www.newtowneplayers.org/): 

Long Island cardboard box tycoon Joe Benjamin is a modern-day Job in this hilarious comedy. He has a demanding wife, ungrateful children and wise-cracking employees, but through it all maintains a solid religious faith. Then one night he is visited by a messenger from God in the person of Sidney Lipton, a compulsive film buff with a mission: to test Joe’s faith and report back to “the Boss.” The jokes and Tests of Faith fly fast and furious as Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, The Sunshine Boys, etc.) spins a contemporary morality tale like no other.”

 

Sidney Lipton (James LePore) tries in vain to explain his identity to Joe Benjamin (Robert Rausch) through many theatrical techniques and film references. (Photo by Greg Rumpf)
Joe Benjamin (Robert Rausch) shows his twins Ben (Lewis Beckley) and Sarah (Mallory Turvey-Manthorn) the spectacles he found in the snow after a botched burglary attempt at the Benjamin Mansion on Long Island, New York. (Photo by Greg Rumpf

This show tests Joe Benjamin’s faith in God so it’s not a coincidence that this production runs the same month as Easter. Every actor knows how to make their characters both funny and realistic.

Between the “combined IQ of 28” twins Sarah and Ben Benjamin (played by Mallory Turvey-Manthorne and Lewis Beckley), the drunken son who appears to have lost his faith (played by Nicholas Wood) and the frustrated wife Rose who tries to understand her husband’s unwavering faith (played by Robin Finnacom, who also produced the show), this family is made up of some real characters (pun intended!) Even the smaller but also entertaining roles of Mady the maid (played by Millie Coryer-Dhu , who also did costuming for the show) and Morris the butler (played by Larry Silvestro) helped the show move along naturally. But the lead characters would have to be Joe Benjamin, the head of the household and devoted lover of God (played by Robert Rausch) and Sidney Lipton, a messenger for God who is just doing this to support his family (played by James LePore- yes, the same James LePore that I would not exist if not for him, so I might be a bit bias 🙂 ) The silly, flamboyant nature of Sidney countered by the serious and confused Joe makes for an entertaining conflict. This show is very original in its plot and takes you on a journey through the “tests of faith” for the Benjamin family.

The skies clear as Rose (Robin Finnacom) returns home with the family, the servants and groceries! Right to left: Mady (Millie Coryer-Dhu), Morris (Larry Silvestro), Ben (Lewis Beckley), Sarah (Mallory Turvey-Manthorn), Rose and Joe (Robert Rausch). (Photo by Greg Rumpf)

I also want to take the time to specifically mention director/sound designer Rick Thompson. The cast and crew did an excellent job with this production, but none of this would have been possible without his time and artistic vision. He did an excellent job bringing Neil Simon’s “God’s Favorite” to life! I also know that he, along with the ever talented stage manager Cara Browkowski, mentored assistant director Heather LePore (yep, more bias, she’s my stepmom! 🙂 ) in her first directing position. The set design was well-done by Dave Kyser and Linda Sanborn, with the use of a rotating set and clever set pieces (I can’t say anything more because I don’t want to spoil anything, you’ll have to see it to know what I mean!) Props (done by Megan Pobst) and lighting (done by Sid Curl) were also good!

Even though it’s a humorous production, it does get the audience thinking about religion and beliefs.

But no matter what you believe, believe me when I say: this show is definitely a must-see!

This show runs April 6th-April 22nd. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3:30 PM. 

Adult general admission $15.00
Seniors (65+) / Students / Military $12.00
Children (12 and under) $10.00
Thursdays only $10.00

Go to https://www.newtowneplayers.org/tickets.html or call 301-737-5447 to make your reservations today!

If you can’t get enough of “God’s Favorite,” check out this episode of “What’s the Buzz?” by James LePore featuring the cast and crew!

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