On May 20, 2004, I was lucky enough to attend the evening's performance of Sly Fox and downright privileged to meet René Auberjonois.
If you have an opportunity to see Sly Fox with the current cast, run, don't walk, to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It will be well worth the effort.
I saw the show after having been awake for 30 hours straight. (Don't ask! Flight delayed. No time for a nap!) I remember hoping the show would be interesting, otherwise I was going to fall asleep five minutes after the lights went down. I should not have worried. The play was hysterical - laugh out loud, tears in your eyes, stitch in your side funny!
Richard Dreyfuss was deliciously evil as "Foxwell J. Sly". His onstage chemistry with Eric Stoltz, "Simon Able" ("Sly's" protégé) was excellent. Their banter was perfectly timed - a beautiful thing to see.
Bronson Pinchot was brilliant as "Lawyer Craven". I had forgotten how physically funny Bronson is. In fact, one of the funniest scenes in the play involves "Craven" being intimate with (i.e., humping) "Foxwell Sly's" treasure chest filled with gold. To say "Craven" desired the gold would be putting it mildly. The audience howled with laughter.
René Auberjonois's character is "Jethro Crouch", who is supposed to be older than dirt. In order to appear old and decrepit, René adopted a bent-kneed stance and walk. I do not know how he kept it up throughout the play. All I could think was that his chiropractor would not be pleased. Or maybe he would. After all, that stance guaranteed the doc a job.
René and Rachel York ("Miss Fancy") have the second funniest scene in the play. In an effort to seduce "Jethro Crouch", "Miss Fancy" places "Crouch's" hand on her breast. René starts sort of bouncing on the couch while running his tongue around his lips (like an old man without teeth). My description pales in comparison to the hilarity of the scene. What René does with his eyes.... I don't have the words. Trust me, the scene is hysterical and René is brilliant.
Peter Scolari appears in the second act as the sexually frustrated "Chief of Police". He kept falling to his knees and ripping his shirt open, then trying to get himself back under control. I was laughing my behind off.
In fact, the entire cast was magnificent. The show was irreverently funny. It's sick and wrong, but I loved it!
After the show, I stood near the stage door and got to smile and say "great show" to the majority of the cast, which was fun. Of all the cast members that passed by me, Peter Scolari was the only one to stop and acknowledge my "great show" comment. The others kept right on walking. Most nodded, but that was about it. Peter stopped, made eye contact, shook my hand, and said, "Thank you very much." He was sincere and gracious. I was very impressed by his behavior.
As much as I enjoyed my 'moment' with Peter, I was there to meet René! Sweet man that he is, he spent a few minutes with me outside the stage door, even though his wife was waiting for him. I thought it was gracious and brave of him to take time after the show to meet a fan (even a brief meeting like mine, pre-arranged through his fan club). Of course, any man who bicycles in Manhattan has to be brave...or nuts! I am in awe.
Seriously, René Auberjonois is not only an amazing thespian, he is also a class act.
For those of you who have not met René, if you get a chance to meet him, take it! Do not hesitate for even a second. But be prepared. Those eyes are killer!