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Viagara Falls

Veteran actors Teresa Ganzel and Bernie Kopell do what they can to lift this labored sex comedy about senior citizens.

Bernie Kopell, Teresa Ganzel, and Lou Cutell
in Viagara Falls
(© Carol Rosegg)
Simply put, Viagara Falls, the labored new comedy by Joa Machado and Lou Cutell now at the Little Shubert, is designed to unleash as many senior citizen sex jokes as possible.

The play's fundamental structure is a statement of a line to set up a joke, and then a line to pay it off. Some of the jokes are, in fact, funny; however, most are not. Still, the piece, directed with genial unselfconsciousness by Don Chrichton, and costumed with flair by Bob Mackie, makes no excuses for what it is.

What makes the play at all engaging is the unabashed playfulness of its valiant three-person cast, which includes Cutell, Bernie Kopell, and Teresa Ganzel, all of whom do their damndest to sell their lines to the audience. They display a kind of show business chutzpah that is actually kind of inspiring.

We enter this story on the birthday of Charley (Cutell), who intends to celebrate it with his life-long best friend, Moe (Kopell) by spending the night with a pair of hookers. Both men are widowers who were faithful to their wives, but now Charley, at least, is ready to relive his randy past. Moe, however, is shocked and unwilling to go along.

Viagra is the answer Charley offers Moe, but even then Moe resists; it turns out he's been celibate so long that he's afraid to put himself at risk. Charley, however, is relentless and calls an agency that specializes in servicing older men. Enter Jacqueline Tempest (Ganzel).

Ms. Tempest comes alone, the second woman Charley ordered having been arrested by the police. Jacqueline assures them that she's woman enough to handle both of them. Possessing a carload of comic shtick, Ganzel's performance -- aided by the work of her costars -- finally lifts this ponderous comedy to a level of vivacious vaudeville that becomes palatable.