Red Hot or not?

Paul Benedict plays character Barney Cashman in the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s production of Neil Simon’s comedy, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers”. VVTG newcomer, LE Ann Elder-Kalstein, plays Elaine Navazio, Barney’s first attempt at having an affair. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Barney Cashman is a 47-year-old happily married man with three children. He’s a successful businessman, and a man going through a midlife crisis. Sounds a bit like actor Paul Benedict without the midlife crisis, doesn’t it? Well, you’re close, Benedict is a nice guy and he’s going to play, lead character, Barney Cashman in the Virgin Valley Theater Group’s new production “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” written by Neil Simon.

The play is directed by Denis Feehan. Feehan is familiar with musical direction and he’s familiar with acting, now’s he’s putting his two talents together for the first time in the last VVTG show of the season.

Benedict may be comfy and cozy in the “nice life” but he’s sure to stir up some laughs when his character, Barney, has had quite enough of it.

Determined to stoke the old coals, fulfill some fantasies and have an affair, Barney tries not just once, but three times, with three different women.

His first tryst is with an unpolished and neurotic woman, Elaine Navazio, played by newcomer LE Ann Elder-Kalstein.  Elaine is unimpressed by Barney’s attempts to make a quick romp in the sack anything more. Elaine sarcastically, and with little sympathy, wishes him well on her way out the door.

His next encounter is with a pseudo hippie chick named Bobbie Michele and played by Dianna McKinney. Bobbie originally visits Barney to repay a loan. She fascinates him with tales of her sexual encounters and eventually convinces him to smoke some pot with her but nothing more.

His final attempt comes when he tries to be an accomplice in “pay back.” Jeanette Fisher, family friend, played by Susan Schultz, just found out her husband had an affair, now she wants to repay him by having an affair with Barney. Will he be successful? Find out Friday, March 16, or Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m. or even Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m. as “Last of the Red Hot Lovers’” opens at the Mesquite Community Theatre.

Neil Simon’s comedy examines what it means to grow older, and asks the question, “What do you do when it seems as if your life hasn’t been fully lived?”

Can’t make it this weekend? Additional show times are March 23, 24, 30 & 31 at 7 p.m. or March 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 per person, $5 for students and are available at Mesquite Chamber of Commerce, Mesquite Fine Arts Center and Ready Golf Cars or the MCT box office one hour before show time.  (Student’s tickets are available at the MCT box office only) For more information on the Virgin Valley Theatre Group, visit www.vvtgnv.com.

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