Theater: The show that made James Corden a star

Here’s a clue about the knock-down-drag-out comedy of “One Man, Two Guvnors,” which Palo Alto Players is staging: In addition to having a director, it has a “physical comedy” director.

The show has always had a second director for that purpose, ever since its premiere in London in 2011.

It’s the show that made a star of James Corden, who was completely hilarious as the easily confused Francis Henshall. When the show came to Broadway in 2012, Corden won a Tony for the role.

“It’s two hours of over-the-top, non-stop, side-splitting fun and laughter,” according to Palo Alto Players Artistic Director Patrick Klein, who is directing this production, which opens on June 15. Certified stage combat instructor Carla Pantoja is the physical comedy director.

And the show needs it — in addition to Francis slapping himself silly and falling backward over a chair, an old man is smacked with a cricket bat, and other hijinks fill the stage, all the while accompanied by the music of an on-stage band. And members of the cast.

“I’ve been learning the xylophone,” said Doug Santana, an extremely talented fellow who is playing Francis in this production.

“Pat asked me to be involved as soon as they decided to do it,” Santana said during a recent phone call. “I told him I would love to.”

Klein and his wife, Izetta, and Santana and his wife, Elizabeth, have known each other for many years, starting when three of them were students at San Jose State, and continuing through a period of all living together in New York.

Now Elizabeth Santana is managing director at Palo Alto Players, and the teamwork of her and Klein has turned the Players into an outstanding theater company. Not every production has arrived fully polished and firing on all cylinders, but many of them have been excellent. “Tarzan.” “Peter Pan.” “Million Dollar Quartet.” “The Graduate.” “Chicago” (with Elizabeth Santana fabulous as Roxie Hart). “The Addams Family.” “Eurydice.”

That “Addams Family,” in 2015, had Doug Santana as Gomez, and Betsy Kruse Craig as Morticia. They were great together, helped along by Kruse Craig, who is a statuesque 6 feet tall, towering over Santana, who is 5-foot-9.

“Being a character actor, that has been an asset for me,” Santana said. “Average height and stocky build.”

Santana has done plenty of theater, including national tours of “Bye Bye Birdy” and “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.” He and Elizabeth worked on a cruise ship together, performing music every night.

At home in the Bay Area, where he was raised, Santana said he is lucky if he gets to do one show a year. For instance, when Foothill Music Theatre lost its Pseudolus about three weeks before it was supposed to open, director Milissa Carey called and asked him to take the role. He did.

He’s also been Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray” and played a number of other roles, including performing in “Guys and Dolls” at CMT Marquee in San Jose, with his wife in 2018.

The relative paucity of his performing roles has to do with his day job …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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