Forest Hills theater troupe stages a fanciful farce

By Merle Exit

First String Players hopes to heat things up this season with a comic production to combat the winter doldrums.

Located at Our Lady of Mercy, in Forest Hills, “Kiss Or Make Up,” a comedy farce written by Jack Sharkey, is being performed the weekends of Jan. 25 and Feb. 1.

Paul Morisi is producing, while his sister Stef Morisi is directing. Their mom is on the house staff and their dad, Steve, has a role in the show, making this play, as Stef termed it, “a family affair.”

Steve Morisi founded the group several years ago after having to move from one venue to another before finding this current home.

Theater runs through the Morisi family’s veins.

As a student at Mary Lewis Academy, Stef acted in shows before turning to running the show.

“My first full-length show directing was ‘Beau Jest’ in 2012,” she said.

Although Mary Lewis Academy is an all-girls’ school, boys have been brought in when it comes to filling theater roles. Liam MacLarty was one of them. In this production he portrays a bumbling cop, as he puts it.

“I love playing these type of character roles,” MacLarty said.

The plot of “Kiss Or Make Up” revolves around architect Morgiana Kendrick (Jennifer Toomey), who has found true love at last in Hanley Swope (Johnny Culver). He’s a city planner for whom she has designed the zoo’s new crocodile house.

The problem is that, to stop incessant queries as to why she’s not married, over the years she has created an imaginary husband and daughter. Now the Treasury Department, in the person of neophyte agent Barney Benson (MacLarty), is investigating why her husband has not paid taxes.

Morgy cons her neighbor, Kirsten Charlotte “Casey” Delevan (Kellie Alberici), into posing as her daughter for Hanely’s visit.

However, Casey’s fiancé, Franklin McHugh (James Rosa), a ladies’ wear buyer for a large store, shows up to announce their engagement and she tries to palm off Barney as her visiting brother.

A policeman (Steve Morisi) arrives to investigate a Peeping Tom report, thanks to Barney’s inept surveillance as all are attacked by parasitic crocodile crabs just when the fiancé’s Bostonian socialite mother, Eloise Fitzpatrick McHugh (Rachael Toledorf), shows up to meet her son’s intended.

Alberici, who tends to try out for musicals, is just as happy to be part of this comical performance.

“Theater is more than a hobby for me, and I am looking to pursue the Broadway stage as a possible goal,” Alberici said. “As for community theater, it’s about meeting new people and adding to the dynamics of acting.”

If you go

“Kiss Or Make Up”

When: Saturday, Jan. 25, 8pm; Sunday, Jan. 26, 2 pm; Saturday, Feb. 1, 8 pm; Sunday, Feb. 2, 2 pm

Where: Our Lady of Mercy, 70-01 Kessel St., Forest Hills

Cost: $10

Contact: (718) 268-6143

Website: firststringplayers.org

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