Projects Created by Ronnie Larsen
M = Men
W = Women
TG = Transgender
Projects Produced by Ronnie Larsen
To define the new play “Happy Ending” too precisely is to give away all its sly little secrets.
So we really shouldn’t pin down whether the one-act getting a world premiere at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage is a thriller, comedy, drama or sex romp (or all of those – wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
What we can tell you without deflating the gay-themed work is that it has plenty of eye-popping nudity and oh-my-goodness sexual situations. But that will come as little surprise to those familiar with playwright Ronnie Larsen’s previous works (“Making Porn,” “All-Male Peep Show,” “My Boyfriend the Stripper”).
The story is simple, almost stripped bare. It's 2016 and Andy (Matthew Pappadia) has finally managed to scrimp and save enough to open his very own professional massage therapy studio. In walks Mr. Miller (Josh Berresford), a wound-tight and twitchy client there for his first-ever massage.
For much of “Happy Ending,” the two rub each other the right way and the wrong way as Mr. Miller repeatedly steps over the line with probing questions and mixed signals. When he chillingly asserts, “I chose wisely” while gauging the situation, we’re not sure if he means Andy’s professionalism or something sinister. The psychological zigging and zagging between the two allows Larsen to weave in varied themes such as politics (tramping on Trump with some broadsided jabs), sexual orientation, economic class, social media and even discourses on Steely Dan and Adele.
As agendas seem to slip-slide in and out of the narrative, you can hardly be blamed for thinking, “Where is this going?” Just relax. “Happy Ending” does get there. It all comes spilling out in a nice little turn after about an hour, with no intermission.
There are still some production glitches to be worked out. Even though the play feels slight, there are still pacing peccadilloes. And while Berresford and Pappadia both do a fine job of staying in the moment and – just as importantly – not telegraphing twists, they are helpless to contend with little character issues. For example, there is a passing nod to Andy being an OCD neat freak, which is summarily dropped as soon as the punch line sorta-kinda lands. And a comic bit involving lip syncing is hysterically funny, even if it is incongruously campy for one of the characters.
Having said that, handsomely produced and brightly lit, the show looks great. And even with the picayune character hitches, Larsen’s script is scrubbed clean of tidy aphorisms and fall-back cliches that have peppered his previous works. His man-on-man milieu has a less strident ring to it here. With “Happy Ending” we can see that his predilection for gay sex is beginning to give way to something gay sexy.
"I had no idea what to expect, but wow, both actors did a wonderful job. It was a very interesting "turn of the massage table" of events that were unexpected that made it very interesting. I applaud the theater for staging this show, and the actors for performing it. I would definitely recommend it." Henry Pabian, 5 Stars
"This play was not what I expected. It was funny, poignant and very well acted. The 2 stars were terrific and believable. Got see it!" Don and Bob, 5 Stars
"Hilarious." John, 5 Stars
"Well done production - the 2 actors had good chemistry. We all walked out with happy endings in mind." Ronni, 4 Stars
"Ron is an incredibly gifted man who can create a story that has comedy drama and serious tone to it keep up the good work" Allan E. Dupuis, 5 Stars
"Implausible script with an excellent cast. Acting was pitch perfect. Kudos to the two fine actors. A wonderful surprise." Charles, 5 Stars
"Being a massage therapist myself i can relate to the play, it was very well written and the actors were great." Carlos, 5 Stars
"If you're a gay guy, this is just not to be missed. Nuf said" Bob Karelitz, 5 Stars
"Best Ronnie Larsen play. Actors were great." Mike 3131, 5 Stars
"Fantastic unique storyline involving only two cute 30ish guys: one, a massage therapist and the other a nerdy guy who supposedly seeks his first male on male massage. Nervousness and sexual discussions provide each with uncomfortable emotions that end in an interesting twist." William T Wisinski, 5 Stars
"Wow, Happy Endings was incredible, it played to a packed house last night and the entire audience found it very entertaining! Bravo! I think that you gained many new followers and supporters of your work!" Brian
"I went to see Happy Ending yesterday and wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoyed it. The writing, the acting and even the scenery were all spot on. Thanks for a wonderful and thought provoking evening." Michael
"To define the new play “Happy Ending” too precisely is to give away all its sly little secrets...a thriller, comedy, drama or sex romp (or all of those)." Rod Hagwood, Sun Sentinel
* Starring Mikhail Duggan and Richie Stone.
Now thru Nov. 2nd
Wilton Theater Factory - The Foundry
2306 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors, Florida, 33305
MR. MILLER: This is a real massage, right?
MR. MILLER: Nothing funky, right?
ANDY: What do you mean?
MR. MILLER: Nothing crazy, right?
ANDY: Nothing crazy.
MR. MILLER: Just a real, straight up massage, right?
ANDY: Have you had bad experiences in the past?
MR. MILLER: No, I’ve never done this before. First time. Swear to God.
ANDY: You’ve never had a massage before.
MR. MILLER: Well, not from a guy. My wife use to give me massages but I didn’t pay her. I went to one of those Oriental places and after 5 minutes this gal in a kimono had her hand on my junk and I was like, “No way, Sayonara, I’m outta here.” Not what I was looking for, you understand.
ANDY: I understand.
MR. MILLER: I just want to be totally clear.
ANDY: Mr. Miller, you are making yourself absolutely clear.
MR. MILLER: I just want to make sure we’re both on the same page.
Alexander Hulme and Owen Landon in the London production of Happy Ending at Above the Stag.