(above) Kate Woodruff, Lisa Perez and Jim Felton bring the WWII era to life in Long Beach Playhouse’s production of The Voice of the Turtle.
by VICKI PARIS GOODMAN
A simple love story with a curious title, The Voice of the Turtle resonates with innocence and sweetness at a time when perhaps we need to be reminded that goodness does exist.
In World War II-era New York City, confirmed bachelorette Olive prevails on her unemployed actress friend Sally to make excuses for her with her date Bill when Olive gets a better offer. Bill is an army sergeant looking for a good time on his weekend leave. Of course, Sally and Bill hit it off, eventually sparking resentment, jealousy and a bit of a hissy fit from Olive.
Real-life married actors Kate Woodruff and Jim Felton ably take on the roles of the play’s potential lovers, Sally and Bill. Reminiscent of a homecoming queen and her quarterback beau, or of Cinderella and Prince Charming, Woodruff and Felton are almost too good to be true. But their chemistry sizzles.
As Bill’s ex-fling, playgirl Olive gets her flirty street savvy from actress Lisa Perez. Olive couldn’t be more different from Sally if either of their lives depended on it. I expect the contrast between the two women is a part of the play’s point.
Playwright John van Druten makes a valiant effort to beef up his lovers’ sophistication by giving them romantic “histories.” To this end, perhaps Woodruff and Felton’s Sally and Bill are a bit too goodie goodie. While I appreciated their purity of heart, I thought their alluded-to sexual pasts implausible.
Given the difficulty believing that Sally and Bill are anything but virgins, I found Sally’s fear of involvement hard to swallow, as well.
Still, I’m a sucker for romance, and The Voice of the Turtle certainly fills the bill.
Oversimplification of the two main characters aside, Director Andrea La Vela presents a polished, well paced and clean production that is obviously well rehearsed.
Andrew Vonderschmitt’s set, cleverly depicting three rooms of the lovely flat Sally rents from an actress friend, is beautifully detailed and almost assumes a role of its own. Donna Fritsche’s costumes, especially the various period dresses worn by Woodruff, are fabulous.
Is The Voice of the Turtle a “chick flick” of a play? Maybe, but the men in the opening night audience seemed well absorbed in the play’s action and must have been touched by its charm.
The Voice of the Turtle continues on the Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage through December 6. General admission tickets are $22; $20 for seniors. Student tickets are $12 with valid student ID. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees on November 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 2 p.m. Call (562) 494-1014 for reservations and information. Tickets are also available online at www.lbph.com.