By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
In the play, the real war between writers and network suits is over political satire. It's the McCarthy era and Max wants to skewer Senator Joe, which could put him and his writers on the dreaded blacklist.
WaterTower's got a hot, fast cast for this one, directed by Terry Martin. What a treat to watch Gonzales (the star last fall of Lyric Stage's Road to Qatar) throw himself into the role of Max Prince with more of Jackie Gleason's heft than Caesar's sly twinkle. His timing of Neil Simon's punch lines is impeccable and in the brief bit where Max becomes Marlon Brando in a spoof of that other Caesar—Julius—he exquisitely overdoes the whispery voice and smacking lip curl of the '50s' most famous method actor.
Supporting Gonzales as Max's band of merry madcaps are Regan Adair as a suave Ivy League-er uttering droll bon mots as he works the Times crossword; Brian Hathaway as manically funny skirt-chaser Milt; Ted Wold as the ersatz Woody Allen, whining about imagined ailments; Ginger Goldman, quick as a snapping turtle as the lone gal on the writing staff; John Daniel Pszyk as the Russian-born head writer; Erik Archilla as the Irishman among Jews; and young Daniel Fredrick as the gangly new kid (basically Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show). Brandy McClendon has her moment to shine as Helen, Max's comedically tone-deaf secretary.
August: Osage County continues through January 24 at the Winspear Opera House. Call 214-880-0202.
Laughter on the 23rd Floor continues through February 7 at WaterTower Theatre, Addison. 972-450-6232.
With comic chaos escalating scene by scene, 23rd Floor is a definite mood elevator.