Contest-winning comedy debuts at Playhouse
By BRUCE SIWY of The Daily American
Thursday, July 29, 2010 9:18 PM EDT
After Tuesday’s world premiere, it is easy to see how “Who? Maid? Who?” cleaned house at the Mountain Playhouse 2009 InternationalComedy Playwriting Contest. Joe has everything he needs for a perfect getaway weekend: a quiet cabin, his best friend and a pretty young lady. In fact, the setup is so perfect that he’s unwilling to ditch the plan — even when his wife makes a surprise visit. Surprise is the key word.

First-time playwright David Lassig packs plenty of it into this two-hour show and keeps audience members old and young entertained with the characters’ snowballing layers of overlapping lies. Joe exhausts himself trying to keep his mistress hidden from his wife and his wife hidden from his mistress. And just when things can’t get any worse for him, they do. Unaware of the already full house, Joe’s parents pop by for a getaway weekend of their own. Joe’s best friend, Chris, is at the epicenter of the comedic drama. Bought with the promise of a fishing boat, Chris plays several compromising roles within the ever-evolving context of Joe’s self-serving storytelling.

And just when things can’t get any worse for Chris, they do. His own wife, Beth, makes a surprise visit and Chris suddenly has a more personal incentive to hide his actions (and the French maid costume he’s grown accustomed to wearing). Joe and this reluctant partner-in-crime spin a web of lies and laughs large enough to ensnare the entire audience. Their desperate attempts to keep their stories straight serve only to tighten the noose around their necks.

As its title suggests, “Who? Maid? Who?” contains a convoluted plotline. The outlandish complexity of this cautionary comedy is what makes it fun. It is an impressive, ovation-worthy script — especially for a first-time playwright. The play runs through Aug. 8.

Review: 'Who? Maid? Who?' keeps the laughter moving
Friday, July 30, 2010

Farce is a specialty of Mountain Playhouse. It's a genre that this long-running professional theater has honed into a well-running and dependably entertaining laugh-getting machine. So, it's no surprise that "Who? Maid? Who?" generates grins, giggles and guffaws.
Written by David Lassig, "Who? Maid? Who?" won last year's Mountain Playhouse International Comedy Playwriting Contest. It's receiving its world premiere through Aug. 8 at the theater. At the center of Lassig's comedy is Joe, a married man, about to embark on an adulterous affair with Marsha, the young woman who sells him his morning coffee. Joe has planned the a dirty weekend with at the cabin he and his wife own. He arrives with flowers, champagne, a weekend supply of prepared foods and an alibi. His best friend, Chris, will spend the weekend at the cabin under the guise of helping Joe with some work. But before Joe and Marsha have a chance to exchange so much as a handshake, the madness begins.

First Joe's wife, Robin, arrives, with a revealing French maid's costume and a readiness to provide Joe with sexual distractions during his work breaks. She's followed in due course by Joe's parents, Gladys and George; Chris's wife, Beth; and a snoopy police officer. As he struggles to cope with this full house, Joe quickly concocts ever more complicated explanations and deceptions. Friend Chris is alternately introduced as the guy who's having an affair with Marsha, the chef, the gardener who's having an affair with the French maid, and the French maid.

Lassig's script derives much of its comedy from the multiple interruptions to Joe's amorous attempts and the ever-growing complexity of Joe's explanations of who's who, which slows the action in the first act. The second act moves faster with characters pursuing or eluding each other while sprinting through and slamming the set's six doors. The thoroughly professional cast is headed by Justin Packard as the inventive but unsuccessfully unfaithful Joe. He's a deft hand at convincing the hapless Chris (Todd Adamson) into a succession of lies and bizarre impersonations. Chris ends up attracting the amorous advances of both Joe's mom Gladys (Suzanne Ishee), who thinks he's the chef, and Joe's dad George (Frederic Heringes), who believes Chris is the French maid. Ishee and Heringes are delightful and believable as the lusty senior couple.

Ashley Puckett Gonzales shines as Robin, Joe's much put-upon wife who eventually gets the upper hand. Elise Toscano plays the appealingly principled Marsha. Sarah Corey mines the humor as Chris's bewildered wife and Taylor Curtis is the dim but dogged detective. The cast displayed their inventiveness and professionalism at Wednesday's matinee when a technical malfunction forced them to alter their blocking, no small accomplishment in a farce that relies on fast, seamless, perfectly timed exits and entrances.

Director Guy Stroman, who last season directed "The Glass Menagerie" at Mountain Playhouse with Sandy Duncan, acquits himself well, propelling the cast and laughs with a minimum of schtick and some highly amusing sight gags.

July 22, 2010 'Contemporary farce' | Uproariously funny 'Who? Maid? Who?' will make stage debut in Jennerstown
A fast-paced farce makes its debut at an area theater.

“Who? Maid? Who?” will be onstage Tuesday through Aug. 8 at Mountain Playhouse, 7690 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown.  Written by David Lassig, the winner of the Mountain Playhouse’s International Comedy Playwriting Contest in 2009 is making its world premiere at the playhouse.  “We discover it together for the first time,” said director Guy Stroman.  “It’s a slam door, mistaken identity, bed-to-bed contemporary farce.  It’s like the funniest Lucy and Ethel episode ever.  “It starts on a high pitch and gets more high pitched.  The actors will feel like they’ve run a foot race.”  Stroman said funny is hard work, but he has been lucky because he has worked with most of the actors before.  “It shortens rehearsal times so we can have great fun with it,” he added.

The play is set at an upscale lake cabin frequented by young people in their late 20s and takes place within one day’s time.  “Who? Maid? Who?” tells the story of Joe, played by Justin Packard, and his secret plans for a quiet weekend retreat with his would-be-mistress Marsha, played by Elise Toscano. His best friend Chris, played by Todd Adamson, serves as an unwitting alibi, which provides Joe the makings of a worry-free weekend, until his wife Robin, played by Ashley Puckett Gonzales, shows up and catches him with a suspiciously-clad “French maid.”  The weekend also involves Joe’s parents, an inquisitive cop, a chef, a gardener, an old maid and the alibi’s wife. The rest of the cast is comprised of Frederic Heringes as George, Suzanne Ishee as Gladys, Sarah Corey as Beth and Taylor Curtis as Roger. 

“It’s about relationships, love and the absurdity of human behavior,” Stroman said.  “It’s about the lengths we go to get what we don’t want, and what we get we don’t want.” Stroman said the actors are having fun, and it’s a good sign that they’re laughing when they’re not in a scene. Working with a play that has never been onstage before is more exciting than challenging for Stroman.  “With a new production, directing is easier because you are free to define how the play will work best,” Stroman said. “No one has done this work for you previously.”  Stroman had to analyze every aspect of the show before rehearsal began, creating stage directions, defining prop lists and designing costume ideas for each character.  “We have to make sure the words sound right,” said Stroman, who completed a lot of preproduction work with the text.  “It’s not heavy on props, but it is heavy on costumes.  There are maid’s costumes for everyone.”

Lassig acted in many farces before writing his, and he has seen firsthand that farces can make people forget all their worries.  “I thought a man having an affair would serve as a good plot line and then concocted the most outlandish things I could imagine to make the characters fall deeper and deeper into trouble,” Lassig said.  “My goal is to see audience members walk away from the performance smiling.”

Mountain Playhouse debuts competition winner 'Who? Maid? Who?' By Tamara Simpson Girardi, FOR THE VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The winning entry in last year's Mountain Playhouse International Comedy Playwriting Contest will open on stage at the playhouse Tuesday.  Audiences who see the world premiere of "Who? Maid? Who?" can expect a farcical plot centered around a man named Joe, who plans a weekend getaway to his lake house with his mistress.  To Joe's surprise, his wife and other friends show up one-by-one, and the audience gets to watch Joe squirm his way from one lie to another.

After acting in several farces himself, David Lassig decided to write a play that would have audiences consistently laughing.  "I thought that a man having an affair would serve as a good plot line for a farce and then concocted the most outlandish things that I could imagine to make the characters fall deeper and deeper into trouble," says Lassig, whose play beat out nearly 100 others in last year's competition.  "My goal with the play is to see audience members walk away from the performance smiling."

The cast and director have faith that will be the result as they laugh their way through rehearsals. But there are challenges to putting together a performance for the very first time on stage.  "We have to create stage directions, define prop lists and design costume ideas for each character," says Guy Stroman, a frequent director at the Mountain Playhouse.  "With a new production, directing is easier because you are free to define how the play will work best. The work is more challenging, however, because I have to make decisions about every component that will bring the play to life on stage."

Justin Packard, who plays Joe, says bringing a play to life for the first time is daunting, but a lot of fun. "It gives us all a bit of freedom to create what we think the text dictates," says Packard, who also performed in "Altar Boyz" this season.  "This is the first time anyone in the public is going to see this show, perhaps even the playwright." Packard's character feels a similar sense of apprehension.  The weekend getaway is the first trip for Joe and his mistress, and he wants things to go perfectly.  Of course, they do not. When his wife, Robin, shows up, things turn sour for Joe but hilarious for the audience pretty quickly. "

Robin is a take-charge kind of girl," says Ashley Puckett Gonzales, the New York City-based actress who plays the role.  "This is her house, and things are going to be run the way she thinks they should in her house." Gonzales says the fun in the show is in the discovery of how Joe weaves a story to save his own hide.  She says it's genuinely funny and a little naughty, "a good old-fashioned farce with a modern, contemporary feel to it."  "The naughtiness is just the kind of naughtiness that makes us slap our knees," Stroman says.  "An evening in the theater with nonstop laughter is the best theater can offer. This show and these actors will do that for audiences."

JULY 16, 2010 Playwright's award-winning farce to make its professional premiere at the Mountain Playhouse
Mountain Playhouse News Release
Jennerstown, Pennsylvania - The 2010 Mountain Playhouse Season continues with an award-winning farce that will make its world premiere at Pennsylvania's oldest resident summer theater when it opens on July 27th.  Who? Maid? Who? beat out nearly 100 other plays to win the top prize at the International Comedy Playwriting Contest at the Mountain Playhouse in 2009. I t's world premiere production follows only two previous award winners,Harps and Harmonicas and Stonewall's Bust, to be selected for full production during the 2007 and 2008 Mountain Playhouse Seasons respectively.

Who? Maid? Who? is set in a comfortable lake cabin where Joe plans a quiet weekend retreat with his would-be-mistress.  Add his best friend Chris as an unwitting alibi and Joe has all the makings of a worry-free weekend, at least until his wife Robin shows up and catches her husband with a suspiciously clad new "French maid."  As if this situation weren't sticky enough, enter Joe's parents with a weekend of their own planned. Just when "Mr. Alibi" seems to have all the bases covered, Chris' own wife pops in to surprise him with a romantic weekend. Mixed into the mayhem are an inquisitive cop, the chef, the gardener, and the old maid.  Who? Maid? Who?promises two hours of laughter as it proves the "Murphy's Law" of whatever can go, will go wrong.

Playwright David Lassig acted in many farces before penning his first play Who? Maid? Who?  "After acting in farces and seeing first hand how they can make people forget all their worries and laugh, I decided that I wanted to write my own farce," says Lassig about his decision to write Who? Maid? Who?. "I thought that a man having an affair would serve as a good plot line for a farce and then concocted the most outlandish things that I could imagine to make the characters fall deeper and deeper into trouble," recounts Lassig.  "My goal with the play is to see audience members walk away from the performance smiling."

A frequent director at the Mountain Playhouse, Guy Stroman snatched up the opportunity to direct the new farce.  "Who? Made? Who? is young, sexy and hip.  When I read the play, I knew that if I could assemble the right group of actors, we would see the play land, be a success at the Mountain Playhouse and have a life around the country.  When asked about the particular challenges of directing a world premiere, Stroman explained, "I had to really sit and analyze every aspect of the show before rehearsal began.  We have to create stage directions, define prop lists and design costume ideas for each character.  With a new production, directing is easier because you are free to define how the play will work best.  No one has done this work for you previously.  The work is more challenging, however, because I have to make decisions about every component that will bring the play to life on stage." What should the audience expect from Who? Made? Who?, "Human beings in dire straights making bad decisions. Laugher, laughter and more laughter.

Lassig's creative energy shines in Harwood Playhouse production

How far will friends go to protect each other? Joe and Chris are supposed to be on a fishing trip, but when Joe’s wife shows up unexpectedly at their cabin get-away, their alibis turn into a hilarious sideshow with unexpected complications that keep the audience guessing right up to the final curtain call.
Harwood Prairie Playhouse’s 25th anniversary production of ‘Who Maid Who,’ showcases local playwright David Lassig’s unique sense of humor to its fullest. Geared toward mature audiences, the light-hearted farce begins with Joe preparing for a romantic weekend, but things quickly change, as one lie leads to another, and the two friends dig themselves deeper and deeper into trouble with their wives.

Directed by Troy Brewster, who also directed Harwood Prairie Playhouse’s productions of ‘Tom, Dick, and Harry,’ in 2006, and ‘Love, Sex and the IRS,’ in 2003, this year’s production will captivate audiences with the cast’s silly antics. 

The cast includes Adam Harfield playing Joe; Dori Reich, playing his wife, Robin; David Lassig as Chris; Shanara Lassig as Chris’s wife, Beth; Jim Donat, as Joe’s womanizing father, George; Pam Strait as George’s wife; John Steiner as Roger, the local sheriff; and Amanda Eide as Joe’s girlfriend, Marsha.

If you want an evening of fun and laughter, don’t miss ‘Who Maid Who,’ performed at Bonanzaville’s Dawson Hall through the month of March. Evening performances are scheduled on March 12-14; March 19-21; and March 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees will be held on Sunday, March 22, and Saturday, March 28, at 2 p.m.  Tickets are available at the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm, 1201 28th Ave. N., Fargo, or by calling 701-298-6807. A $1 donation is being made to the Children’s Museum for each ticket purchased.  

                                                                                                                                   -Sue Cwikla, West Fargo Pioneer, Published Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Absolutely hilarious! Who Maid Who? is a new comedic classic that theatres will be clamoring to add to their repertoire!"
                                                                                                                                  - Troy Brewster, Director, Harwood Prairie Playhouse

“A gigglefest from beginning to end with more twists than an amusement park ride.” 
                                                                                                                                 - Charlene Hudgins, Artistic Director, Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre

“The unexpected twists of humor in the plot keep you laughing all the way home.”
                                                                                                                                 - West Fargo Pioneer, West Fargo, ND