Regulars at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre know that there is no one genre typical of what is produced there. Instead, there are about four — give or take a melodrama or two. Paul Rudnick’s Regrets Only falls into the classic comedy-of-manners category, with elements of farce and satire and an emphasis firmly placed on witty one-liners. The action takes place in an Upper East Side Manhattan apartment, where Tibby McCullough (Susie Couch) lives with her husband, Jack (Ray Wallenthin). The quips begin to flow as soon as Tibby’s best friend, famous fashion designer Hank Hadley (Brian Harwell) strides through the door in a perfectly tailored suit. Before Hank and Tibby can leave to enjoy a night on the New York charity ball circuit, a couple of plot developments arise, causing these best friends to reevaluate both their relationship and their self-images.
Rudnick is one of the most gifted humorists writing for the stage today, and this show brims over with big laughs. Jean Hall is particularly funny in the role of Myra Kesselman, the McCullough’s maid and an antic personality prone to wicked impersonations. As Spencer McCullough, the attorney daughter of the house, Jenna Scanlon delivers just the right mix of steely professional ambition and light-hearted debutante vainglory. And Kathy Marden manages to trigger some of the evening’s bigger laughs as Tibby’s mother.
Dealing as it does with the controversial issue of gay marriage, one might expect that Regrets Only would be polarizing, especially for an unsuspecting dinner theater audience. But on Saturday night of opening weekend, the only differences of opinion to be heard were among people who couldn’t agree on which character was the funniest.