April, 2007, North Tonawanda, New York - NOODLES come in all shapes and sizes, and the cast of L. Don Swartz's new play is no different. The REALLY funny thing is, most of the characters in his latest comedy inhabit the same particularly zany family.
As he prepares for the world premiere, playwright Swartz gives us a rare look inside NOODLES.
NOODLES could easily be mistaken as Neil Simon at his jokester best, with the heart-warming moral that seems to pervade much of Swartz's work. By the end of the story, you may re-think just who among your own family are crazy and who are sane...and realize just how much you all care about each other.
That's exactly how Don Swartz likes it, as the Ghostlight Theatre gets ready to give life to his crazy Boodles.
"Normal people just don't interest me," says Swartz, and the Boodle family is anything but normal. Here's a sneak peek at the Boodles as they prepare to meet an audience for the first time anywhere on May 10:
Homeowners Boo and Stu Boodle, whose affection for each other is still genuine after all these years, set the stage for the rest of the family. Boo is June Cleaver at her homiest, caring but sometimes carried away; hubby Stu is no straight, practical Ward. He's been inhaling dry-cleaning fumes for 30 years and has the empty-headed comic cluelessness to prove it.
"When we are children we think our parents are crazy," said Swartz. "It's only when we become parents ourselves that we realize WHY."
Grandpa Boodle, who started the family's Boodle's Dry Cleaning and Pie Shop, is now retired and devoting his free time to a favorite pursuit: a cat house that he runs. At least, that's what HE calls it. Grandpa regales with his cat house exploits as the true storyteller that he is, and although he can't quite save the world, he turns to his newfound friends to help solve a family crisis.
Swartz has a fondness for Grandpa, even considering at one point taking on the role himself. "Senior citizens are more vital when they are encouraged to pursue the dreams they put on hold to raise their families," he adds.
Lulu is the Boodle's hypochondriac daughter. She faces spontaneous combustion, flesh-eating disease and more, only to succumb to the oldest disease known to man: love.
Mother Boodle correctly proclaims that there's someone for everyone. "The classic comedy formula ends with romance," said Swartz. "NOODLES stays true to form."
Lulu meets her match in the equally germ-o-phobic Luke, who just might be the perfect addition to this family, even without the "L" from his first name ("The L is silent!"). You‘ll never see a pair quite like ‘Uke and Lulu...and you'll be surprised at what afflicts Lulu next!
Can one be homeless within a home? Residing in a fully functional cardboard appliance box in the middle of the Boodle living room is the ever-helpful Jack. Could he be a living symbol for the walls we all build around us, or is he just comfortable being a Jack-in-the-box? The warm, streetwise Jack plays an important role in a family that has embraced him as one of their own.
"We are a disposable society," explains Swartz. "When something outlives its usefulness we discard it. Human being like Jack are no exception."
Everyone has an eccentric trailer-park type neighbor. The double-hyphenated Mrs. Doodah-Doodah to Boo IS the trailer park equivalent of Millie Helpurn to Laura Petrie from the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Wait till you hear HER stories.
"You cannot write a comedy without a wacky neighbor," adds Swartz. "There are laws against that."
And then there is Ned, the 30-ish son of Ma & Pa Boodle. If you met Ned on the street you might be tempted to buy a mutual fund from him. He's the "normal" one of the family. As we see right from the start, Ned's efforts to introduce girlfriends Krystal and Nora to his family don't turn out very well, but this latest one is different. Elaine sees what few others see in the family Boodle. Why? Ned was once a close part of this daffy bunch, perhaps even a little daffy himself at one time. But something has changed him. Can Elaine help? Can Ned help his family cross over into his world... the sane one you and I see every day?
With understated humor, the final scenes explain everything and will leave you feeling pretty good about some of your own weirdness...and just might help you view your own crazed flesh and blood with a knowing smile, a kinder eye and an open heart.
Regarding the title: what does NOODLES mean? "You'll have to buy a ticket to find out!" teases the playwright. "And bring Mom to the world premiere. If she likes to laugh, what a perfect Mother's Day gift NOODLES will be!"
Renowned playwright L. Don Swartz is also actor, director and Artistic Director of Starry Night Theatre, Inc., which owns and operates the Ghostlight Theatre. NOODLES runs May 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 8 pm, and May 27 at 2 pm. Reserve tickets by calling 743-1614 or visit www.starrynighttheatre.com.