The story of rivaling sports teams (or in this case, country clubs) that will go too far to win at any length would not surprise most people but you may not have seen quite a hilarious version if you haven’t seen Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway playing at Stage West until November 9, 2014.
The playwright, who is better known for Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo wrote this comedy as a tribute the great English farces of the 30’s and 40’s and takes you behind the scenes of the annual inter-club golf tournament where bets are high and drama is even higher.
Set in the Tap Room of Quail Valley Country Club the audience is quickly gripped into the stuffy existence of a private country club yet charmed throughout the adventure that includes over the top performances by some pretty incredible actors. The six-member group features the famous George Wendt starring as Dickie Bell, who manages Crouching Squirrel Country Club and the guest at the event.
Wendt is best known for his role in the sitcom Cheers, which he played the part of Norm Peterson during the shows eleven years on television. According to his program bio, he is getting ready to return to TV in an upcoming new series called Buzzy’s in 2015.
This fast paced story directed by J. Sean Elliot also features Bernadette Birkett from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, who also happens to be George Wendt’s real-life wife of 35 years.
Club directors and archrivals Henry Bingham and Dickie Bell begin the story by waging a rather large bet on the outcome of the tournament. For Bingham, everything is on the line including his job and Bell, who always seems to be one step ahead takes full advantage of his predicament. Believing he has a star player, Bingham’s false confidence quickly gets him into trouble when he discovers he has been tricked by Bell finding out the star player will actually be playing for Crouching Squirrel.
Desperate, Bingham agrees to put his newly hired and unstable assistant Justin Hicks into the tournament to replace his lost player. To Bingham’s delight, Hicks surprises everyone with his skill and at by end of 16 holes, Hicks is down eight strokes while Crouching Squirrel’s player is down only one.
Matters become problematical, however, when Hicks becomes emotional over a love quarrel with his fiancé and tries to forfeit the game. Every good story needs a hero and this is no exception. The savior in the end is not who anyone expected and we are reminded that not all is as it seems as the relationships of the characters are ever changing.
The Fox on the Fairway is a funny, light comedy that will keep you chuckling throughout the show. Seeing the likes of George Wendt live on stage is exciting for those who remember the days of Cheers. After the show, you may find yourself reminiscing about humorous Cheers memories between Sam and Rebecca, Norm and Cliff, Woody and Carla, and of course Frasier.