Jack Neubeck, as an actor hired to pretend he's a carpenter, and Polly Schlitz, as the pianist with a scheduling conflict, are among the stellar cast of Invisible Theatre's "In the Mood."


There are many things remarkable about Invisible Theatre, but this one always astounds:

The big sets on the tiny stage.

Not big in size, but big in concept and execution. That stage is constantly being transformed in impressive ways.

And so it is with "In the Mood," which the company opened Wednesday.

The light romantic comedy by Kathleen Clark takes place in a Manhattan high-rise apartment. James Blair and Susan Claassen take credit for turning the awkward, angled space into an upscale apartment with an elevator, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms, a piano, a bar, and even a leopard skin sofa. That stage looked elegant and perfectly at home.

As did the stellar cast, directed by Claassen.

There was talented Betsy Kruse Craig as the always-in-motion Perri, who is preparing to throw her husband a surprise party. Craig is magnetic on stage, and slips effortlessly into the role of a rather clueless woman who cares more about her material life than she does about her emotional or intellectual lives.

And Bruce Morganti as her suave, witty ex-lover who shows up, much to Perri's dismay, to play piano at the party. It was his sister, Sally (Polly Bourke Schlitz), who was supposed to play, but there was a little snag canceling her third wedding, so she sent her brother in her stead.

Kevin Black is Derek, the party-hating, and, as it turns out, two-timing, husband to Perri; Edward (Jack Neubeck), the lonely actor whom Perri has hired to pretend he is a carpenter (the situation is too convoluted to explain, but quite funny on stage), and Carolyn (Lori Hunt), Derek's, ahem, "friend."

This is a fast-paced comedy with delicious dialogue by Clark, seamless directing by Claassen, and actors who embrace the froth with a giddy sense of delight.

"In the Mood" will put you in the mood for some hearty laughter and good fun.


"In the Mood"

• Playwright: Kathleen Clark.

• Presented by: Invisible Theatre.

• Director: Susan Claassen.

• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.

• When: Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays, and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, through Sept. 25.

• Tickets: $25. Half-price tickets available before all performances; depending on availability.

• Reservations, information: www.invisibletheatre.com or 882-9721.

• Running time: 85 minutes, with no intermission.

• Et cetera: The theater company is offering free tickets to tonight's performance to first responders - law enforcement personnel, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and other emergency professionals. Call the theater for details. A limited number of seats are available.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at Kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.