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'Come Blow Your Horn' opens at Jewel Box Theatre

Neil Simon’s very first play has some dated elements and a slightly weaker script than we are used to seeing over his name. Terry Veal and his cast have risen to the challenge imposed by those limits, and the show is a thoroughly enjoyable return to an early 60s, pre-feminism set of ideals.

Playboy Alan, juggling women and living the life of a free-wheeling bachelor, suddenly finds himself hosting his younger brother, whose arrival interferes with a planned tryst. Played by Brett Boyles, Alan is happily dodging anything like real work or real commitment.

Younger brother Buddy, played by Clint Kubat, leaves home—and his job at daddy’s factory—to move in with Alan and “find himself.” Alan’s attempt to set Buddy up for some “experience” with women is interrupted when their parents drop in.

Father, played with charming bombast by Randall Hunter, has long ago given up on Alan but is now disappointed in Buddy. Mother, played with great comic timing by Chris Harris, is a charming featherhead who loves both of her sons; she becomes a significant pivot point in the plot when she is left alone in the apartment and entertainingly fails to take accurate messages for Alan.

The two young women in Alan’s life are both actresses, and each represents a different 1960s idea of women. Peggy, played with predatory charm by Haley Fortune, is a babe of very little brain, more than willing to sleep her way to a glamorous career. By contrast, Julia Watts gives us a thoughtful and self-aware Connie who takes less prestigious work to make a living and holds her male friends to actual standards. Alan, finding himself possessed of real feelings for Connie at the same time that he is at his greatest point of conflict with his father, is forced to choose between the women as well as choosing between his playboy lifestyle and the version of “respectable” that his father demands.

The production moves along with a brisk and steady pacing; Veal has used his actors and the Jewel Box space very well. Wisely choosing to leave the setting in the 1960s, Veal has deftly sprinkled sight gags among the expected bon mots of any Neil Simon script, keeping the dated storyline light and fun. The set works to vary the action as well as to match references in the script, and the lighting design by Nick Malget is simple and successful.

Christopher Seiker’s costumes display their usual expert elegance; in this show, the clothing serves as an overt marker of real change in the characters. Alan’s and Buddy’s costuming clearly indicates where each of them stands in their social and character arcs.

“Come Blow Your Horn” is playing at Jewel Box Theatre at 8:00 Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 on Sundays through May 10. Tickets can be reserved by calling 405-521-1786 Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m. For more information, visit the theatre website at The Jewel Box Theatre is located at 3700 N. Walker, adjacent to First Christian Church.