■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Another title for Michael Parker’s “Amorous Ambassador”—that recently played at the Ramona Hillside Players—could have been “A Romp at the Embassy” because there was as much time hitting the hay as tending to diplomatic duties. And a romp it was.
When the ambassador, his wife, and daughter tell each other they have separate weekend plans away from their ambassadorial abode outside London, it seems as though each will be off to a happy holiday. But, the plot thickens forever after. Father and daughter have other plans, which they more or less relay to the butler, who is sworn to secrecy.
Once the ambassador sees his wife and daughter out of the house, he calls his paramour from down the road over for a romantic weekend. The first problem arises when the daughter slips back in with her boyfriend, also planning a romantic tryst without parental interference.
And so it goes. Confrontations hold forth as the butler tries to intervene to prevent total calamity.
Enter the military in the form of a highly-programmed captain, who arrives to shut down the premises because there is a bomb threat. How did it end? I’m not telling, but trust me, it was hilarious.
Kevin Spear, a brilliant actor of many stage productions in the valley, starred as the oh-so-amorous ambassador and was outstanding.
Chuck Sims, as butler Perkins, stole every scene. His personification of the English butler who knows all secrets, but reveals none, finally let his hair down in Act II in a situation that had everyone raining tears of laughter.
Laurel Mueller, who appeared in her first production at the Hillside Players, was more the straight-gal than comedienne.
The rest of the cast
Alicia Panicucci played Marian, the ambassador’s romping neighbor girlfriend. She spent most of the time being confused about the household carrying-ons because she was promised a weekend of hugs, kisses and bedroom exercises that did not come off as planned.
Charles Caballero as Joe/Josephine shared honors with Perkins and Marian in a “hook-up” scene that defied the imagination. Caballero and Mueller provided some snipping hilarity that required stitches.
Frank Jaramillo, might be thought of by civilians as an over-emoting army captain, but let me tell you something about that. I spent six years in the military and during that time the captain he played was an everyday part of life. Gung-ho to the “nth” degree, this type of officer could probably recite the entire military code by heart.
Amanda Lashmit, the ambassador’s suffering wife, is limited to opening and closing scenes performed by the numbers when she returns home on Monday morning to find her amorous husband in the family bedroom playing games with “Maid Marian.”
Finally, a word about the production crew and director. Laura Robitaille directed this fast paced farce. Along with her stage manager husband Murray Robitaille, this husband and wife team have both trod the boards within the Inland Theater League domain for a good many years and honed their craft to a “T.” Their grandson, Ricky Hainey, served as assistant stage manager. You could call it a family affair, but then that would be stealing from television. No plagiarism in this production.
The production wrapped Sunday, March 25. If you wish you had seen this one, do not miss “Drinking Habits” written by Tom Smith and directed by Michael Tennant starting May 11. Check with the box office for showtimes at 951-658-5300 or visit ramonahillsideplayers.org.