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God Can't Save This Queen

Theater Review

Robert Massimi.

God Save Queen Pam at The Players Theater is in the same genre as the movie Ralph, where a nobody schlub is exalted to the hierarchy. Actress/ writer Erin Murray Quinlan is a happy-go-lucky bartender in Secaucus, NJ when Col. Eleanor Ainsley and Major Johnathan Digby show up at The Tiki Bar in the Meadowlands, just outside New York City, to inform her that she is to be the new Queen of England. She is next in line to the throne as England just lost their king, who suffered a heart attack at the altar. The would-be queen, Lady Fenella de Dieul (Marie Minette Linder), is none too happy about losing her crown due to the king's untimely death and will do anything to get it back. Her goofball son, Augustus de Dieul, is forced to go along with his mom's scheme to get her to the throne. Pam (Erin Murray Quinlan) has to learn in short order the rules and protocols of being queen. She is overwhelmed by the massive meetings and structure that it takes to be the queen. She clearly hates the job and all the structure and stiffness that goes with the job. She is not allowed to date the handsome Major Jaimie Toben (David Ventura), who has deep feelings for her right off the bat. Pam is a cross between Melissa McCarthy and Roseanne Barr, she is quite comedic and the first fifty minutes get on nicely.

Quinlan, who wrote the play, also composed the music and the lyrics as well. There are many good songs in this show, songs like "Living the Dream", "Think of England", "Hot Goss", and "Keep Calm and Carry On" were all catchy, good songs. Quinlan also had some very funny moments in the musical, however, the play starts to lose steam in the last twenty minutes of the first act and is completely lost in most of, if not all of, the second act. The jokes try too hard to be funny, the dance numbers become too paradoxical, and the story unravels. Farce became farcical and stupid, leaving both the audience bored and uninterested.

The direction in Queen Pam was a lot of the problem here. Director Brian Tuttle was indecisive as to where he wanted this play to go. Tuttle was unable to bring the actors into the realm of where they needed to be. The tentative banter between actors falls solely on his direction. Lines that should have hit hard were limp and not resonant. Tuttle, prior to this show, oversaw the production of over 40 new works in Boston, MA. It would seem clear that he should know how to put on a performance like this one, as God Save Queen Pam is a new work and has a lot of potential.

Bryce Cutler's set is very sufficient in this show. With a very small stage, Cutler is able keep an upbeat tempo and at the same time, he challenges the audience to imagine what cannot be put forth on the stage. Cutler did an admirable job staging this production, as did Mary Ellen Stebbins with the lighting. Both kept the mood light and upbeat but this show could not follow through.

In what was a very lackluster show, there was one actor who stood out. Evan Quinlan (Maj. Digby) was very comedic as well as a great singer. His "Keep Calm and Carry On" was met with the highest applause. His stage presence stood out compared to all the other actors. His grace and poise were so obvious that even a first-time theater-goer could see Quinlan was head and shoulders above all the other actors in this performance.

God Save Queen Pam can become a very decent show if some of the writing is reworked. The basic concept is a good one and could be well received by the audiences, hence; Ralph. The show needs to be stepped up in the second act and the last twenty minutes of the first act needs to be cut down and reworked. The way to success for this show would have been more stage readings and maybe a showcase to have worked out the bugs.

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God Can't Save This Queen
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