Theater review: ‘Jeeves Takes a Bow’ at N.C. Stage

AT YOUR SERVICE: Everyone's favorite valet returns. Scott Treadway, left, Maria Buchanan and Michael MacCauley star in 'Jeeves Takes a Bow' at N.C. Stage Company. Photo by Treadshots

In what has become an annual tradition, incorrigible ne’er-do-well Bertie Wooster and his ever-so-patient valet Jeeves return to North Carolina Stage Company to delight audiences with their misadventures. The third such production in as many years, Jeeves Takes a Bow, runs through Sunday, Feb. 18.

Margaret Raether’s adaptations of the classic P.G. Wodehouse characters have become audience favorites and solid hit shows for N.C. Stage. Some of the area’s top talents help propel the shows into a cascade of laughs. Michael MacCauley returns as Jeeves, the droll butler who always saves the day. MacCauley is a stellar performer with a broad range. The Jeeves character requires a constant calm amid the storm of chaos, barely raising an eyebrow, let alone his voice.

The storm comes in the form of Bertie Wooster, played by Scott Treadway with a panache that would do Noel Coward proud. Bertie is a perpetual playboy with more money than sense, who constantly needs bailing out by Jeeves. The duo of MacCauley and Treadway alone are worth the price of admission.

In this installment, Bertie has come to New York to dodge familial obligations back in England, but his desire to get away from it all comes crashing down when his friend Nigel Bingham-Binkersteth, aka Binky, arrives with a madcap plan to win the heart of the actress Ruby LeRoy.

Binky came to America to be a diplomat in Washington. Instead, he followed Ruby into an audition, got a bit part and has been smitten with her ever since. To prevent his family from finding out, he has told everyone that he is Bertie Wooster. Bertie’s arrival has created a kink in his plans.

Binky tells Ruby that Jeeves and Bertie are show-tune writers who will help make her a star. Charlie Flynn-McIver is wonderfully giddy as the buffoonish Binky. Maria Buchanan shines as the starlet Ruby, leaning perfectly into the mob moll persona.

John Hall‘s “Knuckles” McCann arrives on the scene as the mobster who is funding Ruby’s show, a musical called Naughty Natalie, and is overly protective of her. A final wrinkle is added when Viviene Duckworth arrives from England, pledges that she is to marry Bertie and sets off to write a book about the seedy underbelly of New York. Lauren Fortuna inhabits the dowdy Duckworth with a nebbish nerdiness that is endearing to watch. Her transformation at the influence of the new world she discovers, thanks to McCann, is great fun to watch.

As the physical comedy ramps up with each new twist of the plot, director Angie Flynn-McIver gives the cast a workout. Jeeves endeavors to not provide his typical help in resolving the messes Bertie finds himself in but can’t help but steer the careening story onto a corrective path. To that end, the show includes a cleverly crafted show tune and a re-enactment of a scene from Naughty Natalie set in the Wild West.

WHAT: Jeeves Takes a Bow
WHERE: N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane,
WHEN: Through Sunday, Feb. 18. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., and Saturdays, Feb. 10 and 17, at 2 p.m. $19-45


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.