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Simon’s Red-hot American Pie

Christian Baumgartner_2

By Benton Crowell

Neil Simon comedies are as American as apple pie. Start with Simon’s flaky crust of broad humor and sweet one-liners. Spoon in apple-cheeked, American-bred comic filling. Then bake. Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers is a variation on the chef’s many American comic pies: The Odd Couple, Chapter Two, and Barefoot in the Park. The pie is divided into three acts—each of a distinct comic texture and taste.

Enter Bernardo Cash of midlife appetite for a slice of adventure after 23 years of fidelity pie. Temptress one, a very attractive Elaine. Bernardo-the-innocent finds himself flummoxed in this initial trial of his sexual quest. Elaine is all Granny Smith to his too innocent Honeycrisp. The combination is incompatible for an all-American apple pie of a man whose inner boy can’t get out of the man’s way. It’s the Benjamin of The Graduate inside a 49-year-old man.

The star of this SMA-located spectacle is Christian Baumgartner as Bernardo Cash. Familiar to SMA audiences as Jamie Tyrone in the Spanish-language production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, his Bernardo is seasoned with a Latin flair—one part passion fruit, one part Tequila chaser. As his unbiased director, I know that had the SMA theater community a Tony equivalent, he would win Best Actor in both tragedy and comedy categories. Ivette Pizarro, also of Long Day’s, is Elaine. Simon’s Bobbi Michele in Act Two is performed by the triple-threat SMA talent Gina Acosta. Her Bobbi sings, dances, and acts bit parts in D movies as she aimlessly navigates a career in showbiz. Her game with Bernardo stumbles through some crazy stories before settling on a get down ganja high. Simon’s third-act coda features Jeanette, a familiar partner from a couples’ dinner party group. Jeanette is enacted by Crystal Calderoni, familiar to SMA theater audiences in the recent Call Backs. She’s a Lexapro[A1] queen, freshly numb from an open-marriage betrayal by her husband, Mel. After repeatedly telling Bernardo she doesn’t find him attractive, Crystal morphs from psychologist to attorney in a comic turn for the ages.

None of this Simon pastry should be missed, and the lucky SMA theater audience won’t have to. Treat yourself to this comic piece of pie starting on Wednesday, October 11, 7pm curtain, at the San Miguel Playhouse, Avenue Independencia 82. Play dates: October 11, 13‒15 for week one; Wednesday, October 18, 20‒22 for week two. All start times are 7pm except Sundays at 3pm.

Tickets are 300 pesos (center section) and 250 pesos (side sections), on sale between 10:30am and 2pm at Galeria Ensueños, 57A Mesones, every day except Tuesdays and Sundays; or online at On opening night, Wednesday, October 11, students 25 years old and under, will be admitted for 50 pesos. In English with Spanish supertitles. The playhouse has free secured parking, reserved seating, and taxi concierge service.



Last of the Red Hot Lovers

Wed, Oct 11, 7pm

San Miguel Playhouse, Av. Independencia 82

Week one: Oct 11, 13‒15, 7pm

Week two: Oct 18, 20‒22, 7pm

Except Sundays, 3pm

Tickets: 300 pesos and 250 pesos

Wed, Oct 11, students 25-years-old and under will be admitted for 50 pesos.



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