‘The Graduate’ at Queens Theatre

| ckasden@queenscourier.com |

The golden age of 1930s radio collides with the rebellious 1960s and makes a very funny, often poignant soft landing in 2013. It’s all part of the Queens Theatre’s 25th anniversary celebration at Flushing Meadows/Corona Park.
At a gathering before curtain, Managing Director Taryn Sacramone thanks former Borough President Claire Shulman, the Council on the Arts, the numerous corporate sponsors and many others who have staunchly supported the Queens Theatre.

Onstage, the Los Angeles Theatre Works fuses old time radio techniques with modern sensibilities. That means a “sound effects table” located upstage. Then, numerous standing microphones downstage, completing the scene. Yes, there are some very colorful costume changes as well. The rest, as it would have been performed on radio many decades ago, is left to the audience’s imagination.

Director Brian Kite has guided his actors in an excellent dark comedy for adults with flashes of brilliant caricature. While Simon and Garfunkel’s music plays in the background, “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson…” we are whisked back in time to a graduation party for anti-hero Ben Braddock (Brian Tichnell). Tichnell offers more emotion than some of his predecessors but with that wonderful, intangible sense of contradictions that defines this classic character.

Of course we witness Ben’s ill advised liaisons with extremely worldly Mrs. Robinson (Heidi Dippold) and her all too naïve daughter Elaine (Jill Renner). Dippold, whose TV credits include “The Sopranos” and “All My Children”, gives a sometimes sultry sometimes spiteful always outstanding interpretation of a lascivious 1960s “cougar”. Meanwhile, Ms. Renner convinces us that she is indeed clueless. Even so, her overall sincerity is compelling.

Diane Adair plays multiple roles with a mischievous flair. She is Ben’s ditzy mother and a gum chewing exotic dancer. Tom Virtue is Ben’s remarkably patient but very conservative father. His recent movie credits include “Iron Man 3” and “Hitchcock.” Matthew Arkin plays Mr. Robinson with good nature that turns to understandable rage. Darren Richardson fills the gaps portraying several secondary characters.

Queens Theatre has grown significantly in its first twenty five years. For your GPS, it’s located at 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows/Corona Park 11368. Call the box office at (718) 760-0064 or surf to www.queenstheatre.org.

The upcoming season offers an exciting variety of programs for kids, adults and families. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.