By A.K. Whitney


Staff Writer

In James Sherman's "Beau Jest," a young woman named Sarah is so worried about disappointing her demanding Jewish parents with her romantic choices that she winds up hiring an actor and pretending he is the perfect beau, only to wind up with him after much lying and hilarity.

In "Jest a Second," the sequel, it is Sarah's brother Joel's turn to bring on the deception. A recent divorce has made him realize he is homosexual, but how can he explain to his parents that his new "friend" Randy is a boy and not a girl? Should he do as his sister did and hire a decoy? Or might his actor brother-in-law be up for the job?

The Long Beach Playhouse staged "Beau Jest" last year in its Studio Theatre and now it is "Jest a Second's" turn.

The show opened last weekend directed ably by James Rice, who gets a lot of mileage out of his small cast.

Katie Dietz plays sister Sarah, who is heavily pregnant and utterly surprised by her brother's revelations. Dietz does well with the role, which requires some snappy dialogue, and has a nice rapport with her stage brother.

Lou Saliba plays Joel, the divorced shrink who has discovered his true nature but is terrified by it, quite well. Scott Finn is great as Sarah's husband, Bob, and does his best to help the audience suspend disbelief when he turns himself into the socially accepted "Randy."

As for the real Randy, Cort Huckabone is affable and charming in the role - what parent could possibly reject him?

Doyle Smiens and Jo Black-Jacob play the parents everyone is so desperate not to disappoint.

Both actors are charming in their roles, bickering amiably though sometimes a little stiltedly. And by the end, they once again surprise their children as much as they did in "Beau Jest."

A.K. Whitney (562) 499-1252, ak.whitney@presstelegram.com