Call the Heights Players for ‘Room Service’

Call the Heights Players for ‘Room Service’
Gordon (James Basile) and Harry (David Mackler) smack the Faker (Sam Greene) in the Heights Players’ production of “Room Service,” now through Nov. 21.
Photo by Jan VanderPutten

If there’s any community theater company that can pull off a good show about a community theater company trying to pull off a good show, it’s the Heights Players — and they did with their modern rendition of the 1930s-era “Room Service.”

It’s never easy staging the fast-paced John Murray and Allen Boretz period piece, especially considering its topic. A play about a community theater would be like, well, a community newspaper writing an article about how difficult it is being a community newspaper in these troubling times (of course, such an article is unthinkable).

But director Ed Healy’s cast, mostly comprised of troupe newbies, played the slapstick laughs perfectly — or perfectly enough to render the threadbare plot meaningless.

The farce is set in a ritzy hotel where the crafty Gordon Miller (played by Heights newcomer James Basile) prepares to open his new hit Broadway show — all while his cast members dodge being kicked out because he’s beyond broke and somewhat of a doofus.

Eye-rolling hilarity ensues as Miller and his cronies, Harry Binion (side-splitting Heights veteran David Mackler) and Faker Englund (Sam Greene) try to find a backer for their play, conduct a dress rehearsal and search for food, all within a few hours.

Miller and Mackler, along with the play-within-a-play writer Leo Davis (John Graham) made this show work. The pitch and timing between these guys’ one-liners — a key element of the production — really brought a modern and entertaining vibe to a vintage piece.

The only problem may have been the Heights Players’ sole reliance on quick wit, which at its heart pounding and focus-shifting pace, detracted from individual character development at times. Then again, this was a play (and later a film) made famous by the Marx Brothers, so the tongue-in-cheek tone, overall, was clear and effective.

At the end of the day, “Room Service” is worth seeing. It certainly has elements of cornball humor, but it’s also a fine example of what a good cast of revolving door Heights Players can do together.

“Room Service” at the Heights Players [26 Willow Pl. between Joralemon and State streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 237-2752], now through Nov. 21.

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