“No Way to Treat a Lady” at Village Theatre

It’s awfully hard to be disappointed in a production if it stars Jessica Skerritt and includes actors with the talent of Dane Stokinger and Nick DeSantis, but I’m afraid “No Way to Treat a Lady” isn’t a tour de force. It’s predictable and a little musty, an old tale animated by the terrific cast.

Adapted by Douglas J. Cohen from William Goldman’s novel of the same name, this was work-shopped at Village back in 1999. From there it went on to Off-Broadway success and a long life in regional theatre. Here it is back at Village and finally a main stage production.

A psychiatrist might wonder what kind of relationship Goldman had with his mother. In this work, he presents two mothers, both creepy. One is the overbearing Jewish mother (Jayne Muirhead) who both coddles her son Moe and constantly reminds him of his failures. Moe (Dane Stokinger) is a hard working, affable guy, not a world-beater, but a good detective. Stokinger plays the role as a bit of a sad-sack, but a well meaning one.

The other mother (Bobbi Kotala who, by the way plays three other roles in this production, all with aplomb) is a cold and demanding recently deceased actress. Her son Kit (Nick DeSantis) is also an actor but one who hasn’t lived up to her ambitions and one who can never do enough to please her, so she haunts him after she’s dead. He may not be as successful on stage as she would like, but he’s enormously successful strangling women, and, of course, it’s Moe’s job to put an end to his evil ways.

DeSantis reminded me in some ways of the villain in those old time melodramas. All that is missing is a waxed mustache to twirl.

Meanwhile, the beautiful Sarah Stone (Jessica Skerritt), a potential victim of Kit’s and the love interest of Moe’s is caught right in the middle. As noted, she’s glorious to look at, has a wonderful voice, and plays her part with just the right sang-froid.

Director Steve Tomkins hasn’t quite succeeded in turning this minor work into a major production, and the orchestra, under the direction of Chris Ranney, does as well as can be expected from a score that seemed mighty repetitive to me. But, oh, you will like the acting.

Through April 26 at Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St., N., Issaquah (425 392-2202 or villagetheatre.org), and May 1-24, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett (425 257-8600).

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