Valley Theatre Company
The Last of the Red Hot Lovers male lead Eric Andres, who plays Barney Cashman, is surrounded by other cast members and production crew members, clockwise, are Heather Ruane (Elaine), Fina Muratalla (stage manager), Sandy Pierce (props coordinator), SueEllen Davis (director), Madison Fortney (Bobbi), and Connie Hull (Jeanette).
PROSSER As is so often true in many things in life, finding the right actor to play the male lead in the Valley Theater Company’s production of Last of the Red Hot Lovers was largely a matter of timing.
Eric Endres of West Richland was cast in the part of Barney Cashman, the married, middle-aged, overworked owner of a seafood restaurant in the Neil Simon comedy set in 1970 in New York City.
The show, which will run for five performances, opens Feb. 16, at the Princess Theatre, 1228 Meade Ave.
Other dates are Feb. 17, 18, 23, and 24, with Feb. 18 performance a matinee.
The play has been billed as one of the most amusing of Simon’s plays, in which Cashman decides he wants to join the sexual revolution before it is too late.
To accomplish that, he arranges a series of rendezvous with different women at his mother’s Manhattan apartment while she is at work.
Endres said there were two factors that prompted him to audition for the part.
“I like Neil Simon’s style of writing,” he said. He noted that there may be a perception that Simon’s work is farcical, but it also has a poignant side.
It’s easy to understand Endres’s appreciation for the finer points of writing for the stage.
Before coming to the Pacific Northwest, Endres lived in Buffalo, N.Y., where he was very much involved in community theater, as an actor and a playwright.
In 2003, a successful production of a musical comedy he wrote, A Week in the Life, was staged at the Alleyway Theater in Buffalo earning him an Artie Award nomination as “Best Actor in a Musical.”
The multi-talented Endres also performed with western New York area rock bands and was a regular performer on the Buffalo area acoustic singer/songwriter scene.
Eventually, his musical interests turned to children’s music, and with the success of his first album of music for kids,“The Kid in the Mirror,” Endres decided to devote his full attention to producing and performing kids’ music under the act name Eric Herman and the Invisible Band.
“I stopped doing theater when the kids’ music thing took off,” said Andres.
The time demands of touring and performing made it impractical for him to commit to live theater productions.
That is, until VTC’s Neal Simon production caught his eye, and a lull in his travel schedule made it possible to set the time aside.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Endres. “I love the Barney Cashman character for the challenge of it.”
He said his character has many different facets.
Through the course of the play Cashman’s character is by turns “sweet, flirty, shy, angry, confused, comedic, contemplative,” and more. “He has lots of layers,” said Endres.
He also sees his role as a foil for the three women whom he plays opposite.
“He is the straight man for three wonderful actresses,” said Endres.
Those parts are played by Heather Ruane as Elaine Navazio, Madison Fortney as Bobbi Michele, and Connie Hull as Jeanette Fisher.
Tickets for Last of the Red Hot Lovers are available at Adventures Underground in Richland, Bonnie’s Vine & Gift in Prosser, Sixth Street Art Gallery in Prosser, and on the Princess Theatre website at ThePrincessTheatre.net
The theater and box office will open at 7 p.m. and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. for evening performances. For the matinee, doors will open at 2 p.m. and the show will begin at 2:30 p.m.
The theater’s adjoining Green Room will open at 6:30 p.m. before evening performances, for an adult pre-social.
The Green Room will also be open at 1:30 p.m. for the Feb. 18 matinee. Local wines and microbrews will be available by the glass.