America’s Sexiest Couple at Boca Stage is Master Class in Farce

Kim Ostrenko and Wayne LeGette are America’s Sexiiest Couple at Boca Stage / Photos by Amy Pasquantonio

By Britin Haller

How long has it been since you’ve seen a good old-fashioned farce? Probably way too long. Well, wait no more because the long-time professional theatrical duo of Keith Garsson and Genie Croft have done it again with America’s Sexiest Couple, now gracing the Boca Stage at their new home in the Delray Beach Playhouse’s Cabaret Room.

Garsson is the perfect producing host whose enthusiasm carries over to the pre-show lakeside crowd, while his warm inviting presence makes you feel he is welcoming you into his home. And as Boca Stage’s preeminent go-to director, Croft has an attention to detail and deft touch that is evident here.

America’s Sexiest Couple is a master class in the farce, that historical theatrical art form that’s been around since at least 15th century France, and this is a master class taught by two consummate actors, Boca Stage regulars Kim Ostrenko and Wayne LeGette.

Two-time Carbonell Award winner Legette stars as Craig McAllister, the handsome leading man whose career is not what it once was, but at least it’s gone better than that of his former TV leading lady, Susan. “I’m still doing better than you, honey, I was a drug dealer on Breaking Bad,” he tells her, while two-time Silver Palm Award winner Ostrenko stars as Susan White, the one-time America’s sweetheart and ingenue who is now barely even recognized. “I still get letters from prison. What does it say when your biggest fan got executed?”

America’s Sexiest Couple was penned by Emmy-winning Ken Levine, most known for his work writing other farces like the TV shows Cheers and M*A*S*H, and plays like On the Farce Day of Christmas. Any first-year theatrical student will study the farce, and the dynamics of what makes one. Or we could just consult a master himself, the great Ray Cooney, a British actor and playwright who Charles Spencer, the widely popular theater critic for London’s Daily Telegraph, once called “a national treasure.” Ray Cooney knows farces, and it is said the number of tickets sold to his shows exceeds 100 million.

So what exactly is one? Let’s let Ray tell us himself (paraphrased mildly in places) through his “Rules of Farce,” and we’ll see how Boca Stage’s production of America’s Sexiest Couple stands up. Hint: It does. Mild warning, even though it’s played for laughs, as farces do, this one is full of profanity, bawdy jokes, sexual innuendo, implied sex, and sexual themes. Definity not for the kiddos.

A Rule personal to me is ‘Real Time’. The time spent in the theatre by the audience is time in the existence of the characters in the play. As is typical in a farce, all the action takes place over the course of eighty minutes in one location, a king-sized bed hotel room in the Courtyard by Marriott Syracuse. The set is pretty and practical with that bed front and center. Lights on each end of the headboard come in handy.

I’m not searching for a ‘comedy’ plot or a ‘funny’ storyline. I’m searching for a tragedy. Saying too much would give away the resolution’s secrets, but America’s Sexiest Couple definitely checks this box. We meet Susan first as the bellboy is accompanying her into her room in upstate New York. We know right away something is up. “I’m attending a funeral, and I’m trying to decide how distraught I am,” she tells him. Great line. Despite Susan being the female lead on the #1 sitcom in the 1990s, the young porter doesn’t know who she is mostly because the medical dramady show Residents was the highlight of her career. We quickly learn her male lead, Craig McAllister, is attending the same funeral (it’s an old castmate) and staying in the same hotel.

Susan and Craig have not seen each other in twenty-five years and didn’t part well given Susan left the show abruptly and refused to return for the last episode, or any of the reunion shows. Craig is still bitter and is looking for answers. The chatty, and often widely inappropriate bellboy is played by Forest Stringfellow (great name!) Stringfellow is heading off to the University of Houston in the fall to obtain his Masters in acting.

Casting needs actors who above all must have that wonderful gift –  a generosity of spirit. Farce is teamwork. You can’t have selfish actors pulling attention at the wrong moment. There are no beautiful monologues to hide behind. The characters aren’t standing centre stage, spot-lit, intellectualizing about their predicament. They’re rushing around dealing with it! This is where Kim Ostrenko and Wayne LeGette most thrive. Just like their TV characters, Jeff and Jill, they mesh together beautifully. The amount of dialogue is incredible and, given the direction, it calls for a rapid ping pong-esq delivery, it’s to the actors credit there were no dropped lines (that we know of), no stepped-on lines, and no one broke character laughing at their own jokes – totally understandable here as it really is that funny.

You need actors who are home in tragedy, not comedy technique, but, also – and here’s the rub – they must have the stamina, the precision, and dexterity that farce demands. Farces are deeply physical, and America’s Sexiest Couple is no exception. There is so much precise movement one thinks the director, Genie Croft, should be credited for choreography as well, specifically during the bed dance where Craig and Susan watch old videos of themselves to get in the mood, Craig gets a foot cramp at the most inopportune moment (we feel his pain!), and that hysterical rendering of Shakespeare’s “the beast with two backs” and a bedsheet scene worth the price of admission alone.

The characters must be believable, truthful and recognizable. Susan is still bothered by the fact her husband left her and now has to deal with cruel Hollywood casting directors who actually want her to audition for roles. As if! Asking a woman of her caliber and age to actually audition is code for get thee to a plastic surgeon, she tell us, drawing one of the biggest laughs of the night. And it doesn’t help when Craig teases her about appearing in Driving Miss Daisy in Idaho with Al Roker. But Craig is struggling also. “Do you know how hard it is to have an inflated ego, and be insecure?” he asks Susan in a moment of weakness, and in another touching, honest moment, he admits he felt close to her when he drove home once with her perfume still on him. Craig and Susan are deeply flawed, lonely, and regretful individuals who long for the past and a do-over, just one more chance to get things right. They are us.

In the end, America’s Sexiest Couple reminds us things aren’t always as they seem so have those conversations, ask those unanswered questions, and don’t forget to tell people you love them before it’s too late. Older theatregoers and 70s TV fans not in a hurry to leave the cabaret room will realize the “Three’s Company” theme song is their exit music. “You’ll see that life is a ball again, laughter is calling for you.” What a lovely way to sum up a farce Ray Cooney would be most proud of.
So skip the funeral of the guy you really didn’t like anyway, and get yourself to see America’s Sexiest Couple before they air their last episode. You’ll love it.

Britin Haller is the Senior Editor for Charade Media. Her latest novel is Dumpster Dying by Michelle Bennington, available where books are sold. Find Britin across social media and at

America’s Sexiest Couple from Boca Stage Off-Broadway Series plays through Saturday, April 2h at the Delray Beach Playhouse, 950 NW 9th Street (on Lake Ida), Delray Beach; Evening shows are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; Matinees are at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Running time approx. 80 minutes with no intermission (it’s a farce!) Tickets starting at $39. Call 561-272-1281 or visit  

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