North Coast Rep Season Opener: ‘The Fox on the Fairway’ flourishes with feisty farce

Pamela (Jacquelyn Ritz) and Muriel (Roxane Carrasco) in ‘The Fox on the Fairway’ at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Sept. 9-Oct. 4.
( / Aaron Rumley)

Plays by Ken Ludwig are popping up in a lot of theaters this summer because the clever writer creates the most delicious comedies. “The Fox on the Fairway,” opening Sept. 9 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, joins Ludwig’s list of fabulous farces, which include “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” and now playing at The Old Globe, “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.”

“Fairway” is yet another production with non-stop laughs. A tournament is about to take place at the Quail Valley Golf Club and bets at the club are flying through the locker room like Frisbees. When a beleaguered country club president, his cocky nemesis from a neighboring club, a newly minted (but thoroughly love-besotted) golf pro, a sexy waitress, his sex-starved vice president and his suspicious wife get together, golf balls and clubs may have new targets!

The action is directed by Matthew Wiener, who guides a cast of six that includes Kyle Sorrell, Ashley Stults, Kevin Bailey, Brian Salmon, Jacquelyn Ritz and Roxane Carrasco.

Of her “bluesy and blowsy” role, Ritz said, “I have a lot of fun and I kiss just about everyone. Playing farce stretches different muscles (than a dramatic role) and you have to be very physically present. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s not unlike Shakespeare in that you must maintain the energy to be aware of the technical elements and to stay focused.”

Carrasco said her role “is stretching my acting chops.”

“My part is intended for an overweight woman who is as sturdy as a German tank,” she said. “The role is so unlike me physically; however it’s fun because normally I am more graceful and now I’m brutish and unattractive.”

Although the plot is rooted around golf, those who don’t play won’t have a problem understanding what’s going on.

“I’m a golfer, and as I started reading the play, I assumed there might be some inside jokes that only golfers would get,” Carrasco said. “But you don’t have to know anything about golf, you just have to know people and recognize stereotypes.”

“My character is not a golfer,” Ritz said. “She doesn’t know a lot about the game, but would like to learn more. She’s in the club because she’s on the board, so she’s interested in the stakes, the lifestyle of the club, who’s going to get married next — those kinds of things.”

Both actresses are big fans of Ludwig’s works.

“In a farce, we try to solve problems in a hurry and, of course, the crazy things just keep happening,” Ritz said. “I have to calm Justin down, and the only way I know how to do that is to give him a big kiss on the mouth … just then his girlfriend walks in … I have to pretend I’m struck with sudden blindness.”

Carrasco added her favorite moment is the scene where “I end up having a romantic moment when you least expect it.”

Ritz said, “Ludwig is a master at creating moments we dig ourselves into and then have to dig ourselves out of kicking, screaming and laughing. His jokes are really funny, and yet smart in that he sees the irony of the situations.”

Carrasco added, “He is a wonderful writer. You know these people because he’s able to capture the stereotypes and that makes it easy to develop a love-hate relationship for them. As an actress, I love that because it makes it easier to play and for the audience to understand what’s going on.”