Jonathan Grafft and Nathan Johnson, and (clockwise from lower left) Mallory Park, Josh Wielenga, Sarah Ade Wallace, Andy Davis, Stan Weimer, and Jackie Skiles in Leading LadiesThursday's audience certainly enjoyed the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's Leading Ladies, judging by their loud snorts and uninhibited guffaws. Ken Ludwig provides plenty of fodder for laughter, as do director Tom Vaccaro and his cast, who hit the comedy's high notes pitch-perfectly. As for me, I didn't just giggle but laughed heartily right along with the rest of the crowd at least a dozen times.

Stan Weimer, John VanDeWoestyne, Bryan Woods, and Spiro Bruskas in The MousetrapThe Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's The Mousetrap is a reasonably entertaining presentation of author Agatha Christie's material. There were plenty of good laughs during Thursday's performance, and director Gary Clark and his cast did well in not giving away what's known as "the best kept secret in theatre" until its final reveal - that secret being the identity of a London murderer who is now, very likely, among the guests in the newly opened Monkswell Manor boarding house.

Tom Walljasper, Sandra D Rivera, Tristan Layne Tapscott, and Erin Dickerson in Are We There Yet Five Extraordinary Ensembles

An actor friend of mine says he always wants to be the worst performer in everything he's in, because if the rest of the cast is doing stronger work than he is, that means the show is in really, really good shape. With that in mind, any actor worth his or her salt would be thrilled to be the worst performer among these five ensembles.

 

Valeree Pieper, Lorrie Halsall, and Diane Greenwood in Dearly Beloved Prior to its appearance on the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's 2008 schedule, I hadn't heard of the Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten comedy Dearly Beloved, so I was reasonably surprised when I arrived for Thursday's opening-night presentation and saw that, barring a handful of seats, the house was completely full. (Did these people know something I didn't?) I took it as a good sign, however, and there was an even more promising one not 60 seconds after the show started, when its first line, its very first, earned a huge, unexpected laugh.

Stan Weimer and Diane Greenwood in California Suite For my money, California Suite is the ideal Neil Simon play, as it's actually composed of four independent one-act plays, giving you far less chance to grow exhausted by his characters' persistent wisecracking.

Jeremy Mahr and Maggie Woolley in Arcadia Watching Arcadia, the Tom Stoppard jigsaw puzzle currently playing at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, is like watching a really engrossing foreign-language film without subtitles. You may not understand what's going on, but the actors and director seem to, so you strive to make sense of the proceedings through the performers' inflections, reactions, and occasional lines of dialogue where the meaning is evident. You find yourself desperately wanting to get it.

There are two styles of drama going on in Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest, or at least there are in the Richmond Hill Players' current production of it: domestic and melo-. A prequel of sorts to the author's more widely known The Little Foxes, Another Part of the Forest features, as its central figure, patriarch Marcus Hubbard (Stan Weimer), the richest man in Bowden, Alabama, circa 1880. A cruel, conniving, even murderous despot, Marcus is universally reviled, especially by his children - Benjamin (James V. Driscoll), Oscar (Steve Mroz), and Regina (Keri Cousins) - all of whom, for reasons of their own, want their hands on the family fortune.

Richmond Hill Barn Theatre in Geneseo is like something from an actor's dream. With "theatre-in-the-round" seating, high ceilings for easy lighting capability, entryways from four sides, and an intimate acting space, one would think any play could succeed with these standards. Even a weak performance can be positively impacted by quality set pieces and a connection with audience members.

It's impossible to guess the content of Roger Karshner's The Man with the Plastic Sandwich by its title. Is the setting a cooking show? Is the "man" a toy-maker creating plastic food for those miniature ovens lining the aisles of local toy stores? One certainly won't expect the play to be about a man suffering through a midlife crisis brought on by being fired from his job after 20 years of loyal service.