Sun-Sentinel Review - Happy Ending

Sun-Sentinel Review

by

Rod Hagwood

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.

 

 

Goldstar - Audience Reviews

"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

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"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

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"Hilarious." John, 5 Stars

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"Well done production - the 2 actors had good chemistry. We all walked out with happy endings in mind." Ronni, 4 Stars

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"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

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"Implausible script with an excellent cast. Acting was pitch perfect. Kudos to the two fine actors. A wonderful surprise." Charles, 5 Stars

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"Being a massage therapist myself i can relate to the play, it was very well written and the actors were great." Carlos, 5 Stars

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"If you're a gay guy, this is just not to be missed. Nuf said" Bob Karelitz, 5 Stars

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"Best Ronnie Larsen play. Actors were great." Mike 3131, 5 Stars

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"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

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"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

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"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

 

 

 

Buy Tix - Happy Ending - Andrews Living Arts Studio - Ft. Lauderdale

Click here for tickets

DATES:

June 22nd - July 16th

Thursdays: 8:00pm

Fridays: 8:00pm

Saturdays: 8:00pm

Sundays: 5:00pm

Tix: $35-$50

PHONE:
954-826-8790

ADDRESS:

Andrews Living Arts Studio 
23 NW 5th St. 
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33301

E-MAIL:
RonnieLarsenPresents@gmail.com

 

 

Current Cast - Ft. Lauderdale & Atlanta

Christopher Moss

is 

Mr. Miller

Christopher is thrilled to be part of Happy Ending!  You can currently see him on MTV's Ladylike, Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel, the popular TriBeCa Shortlist commercials as well as the webseries Bros!, Don't Schmuck It Up. Soon you'll be able to see him living scandalously in the short film Handshake in festivals across the country. He is an admitted geek and lover of great food and wine and will gladly bore you with what he thinks is his vast knowledge of both. Outside of acting, Christopher has been the Art Director for a home makeover show on HGTV and works regularly with Anne Burrell and Dale Talde. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, 2 pit mixes, and a boy cat named Sheri. Get to know him better on Instagram and Twitter by following @TopherJMoss.

 

Matthew Pappadia

is

Andrew Lockhart

New Yorker, Matthew Pappadia is thrilled to be a part of "Happy Ending". Most recently, Matthew Pappadiareceived his masters degree in Occupational Therapy with plans to use theater to improve the well-being of LGBT youth. Since graduation, Matthew has helped develop many new works for film, with his most recent involvement in the series Don't Schmuck It Up (Ashley). Matthew also maintains a career in international modeling, having been featured in Vanity Hype Magazine last August. He will be preparing soon for his third stand up comedy show with the Boulton Center of New York. As well as performing, Matthew Pappadia is the CEO of PapsFitness, an online health and wellness consultation business. "I have two pockets: one for gratitude, one for humility, and with them, I feel like the richest man in the world". 

Buy Tix - Happy Ending - 7 Stages Theater - Atlanta

"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

Click here for tickets

DATES:

July 20th - August 13th

Thursday: 8:00pm

Fridays: 8:00pm

Saturday: 8:00pm

Sunday: 5:00pm

Tix: $35-$50

PHONE:
954-826-8790

ADDRESS:

Seven Stages, 
1105 Euclid Ave NE. 
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

E-MAIL:
RonnieLarsenPresents@gmail.com

 

About the play

This marks for the first time Ronnie Larsen has written a play set in Ft. Lauderdale and the first time he has premiered a new play in Ft. Lauderdale. Taking place firmly at the end of 2016, Happy Ending introduces you to a simple, perfectly professional massage therapist who goes about his day job never knowing who his next client might be. When a new customer walks in the door -- full of conflicting signals, hidden agendas and forbidden topics -- all of the job's usual decorum goes out the window. Watch as rules get broken, skin gets bared, the truth gets twisted and things get steamy in playwright Ronnie Larsen's sexy two-character play Happy Ending, hitting Andrews Arts Living Studio in Ft. Lauderdale before moving onto 7 Stages in Atlanta. 

Happy Ending - Excerpt

MR. MILLER:  This is a real massage, right?

ANDY:  Absolutely. 

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. 

 

Original Cast - Ft. Lauderdale - Empire Stage

Josh Berresford (left) as Mr. Miller and Matthew Pappadia (right) as Andrew Lockhart

Matthew Pappadia (left) as Andrew Lockhart and Josh Berresford (right) as Mr. Miller.