Enchanted April, Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre’s current offering, began as a 1922 novel, then was made into a film in 1992. This stage adaptation of the novel was written by Matthew Barber and debuted on Broadway in 2003. With director Miller James at the helm, this production works beautifully in the intimacy of CBB’s cozy little theater.
We open in England, February. Everything is dark and dreary and it rains … All. The. Time. A clever device with a window onstage shows us this quite clearly. We meet the four women who will leave this place for the sunny shores of the Mediterranean to spend the month of April in a secluded Italian castle.
Shannon Saleh is Lottie, bubbly and full of life. Even in these uninspiring surroundings she manages to maintain a bright spirit. But there is an edge to her, a hint of wildness in her eyes like a caged animal looking for escape. Once they reach Italy, her inner joy fully blossoms, and she is like a wood nymph, with flowers in her hair and a song in her heart.
Jean Hall, as Rose, makes a subtle but noticeable transformation throughout the play. At the start, she is proper, stern, no-nonsense. Once she accepts the plan to go to Italy with Lottie, there is a crack in the façade — we see that she does yearn to be “translated,” as Lottie says. Once they arrive in Italy she begins to loosen up, and by the end, Rose’s features have relaxed, her smile is radiant and her eyes sparkle.
Saleh and Hall have a lovely chemistry together, and portray beautifully this growing closeness between them, as well as the “united front” they must present in interviewing two more women to join them.
Britni Alleman is the young but jaded Lady Caroline Bramble, who intended to rent the castle for herself alone, but eventually agrees to join the other three. Marion Freitag is Mrs. Graves, the oh-so-formal dowager quite insistent upon adherence to social niceties. Both do a nice job also of illustrating the changes their characters undergo once they all arrive at the castle — a little less bitter, a little more free.
Dillon Yuhasz is hilarious as Lottie’s finicky husband, Mellersh, complete with an appropriately upper-crust English accent. Barbara Tzur is a delight as Costanza, the maid, who speaks only Italian. Her gestures and expression then must carry the humor, and carry it they do.
Thomas Carlisle is young for the part but rises to the occasion as Frederick, Rose’s husband. Ryan Price is charming as the young, handsome Mr. Wilding, owner of the castle.
William York Hyde has designed another brilliant set here, magnifying the power of the transformation from dark England to bright Italy.
Running through Sept. 7, this is truly an enchanting evening of theater, and comes complete with a delicious barbecued tri-tip and chicken dinner! Catch it while it’s still April at the ranch. Click here for more information.
— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.