"The Last of the Red-Hot Lovers" Brings Comedic Morality in New Vic Production

Jul 4, 2014

Meet Barney Cashman. He's a family man who has achieve a fair amount of success in owning his own business, but feels like he's missing out.

So he decides to find a lover, which leads him to another lover, and yet another lover.

"As he would say he's just looking to experience one brief afternoon of pleasure. And that's it, he just wants to have one affair - just one," says Timothy J. Smith. He's playing Barney in The New Vic Theatre's production of Neil Simon's play "The Last of the Red Hot Lovers."

His character is focused on finding pleasure - in close proximity, or course.  Alongside him is actress Marin Heniritz, who's playing Elaine Navazzio, a feisty customer in his restaurant and the first of the lovers that Cashman tries to win over. "She doesn't have time for niceties, and she's kind of a tough broad," says Heinritz. "Maybe not the easiest person to start out with, trying to have an affair -"

"But that's kind of Barney - he doesn't really have a plan," says Smith. "He thinks he has a plan but really it's not well thought out. He just kind of bumbles through things."

The other two women that Barney dallies with are Bobbi, a nightclub singer, and Jeanette, a family friend who is battling depression. Though the plot is suggestive, the actors say that it's moral compass remains in place.

"I think he learns that sometimes you think - what's that old phrase - it's greener on the other side - I think he realizes that it's really not. That he should be thankful for what he does have, and appreciate his wife and his family," says Smith.

Adds Heinritz, “It’s surprisingly moralistic for a play about having an affair. The play was published in 1970, so I think it definitely has that feel, as I said the moralistic feel. It's a question of whether it's the right thing to do to have an affair, whereas I think nowadays I don't even think we use that word anymore. We talk about polyamory."

The show is being directed by longtime local theater patron and former WMU professor Robert L Smith. As his son, Tim says he practically grew up in dressing rooms watching his father prepare for shows.

"I saw him play King Lear when I was like, 8 years old. Which is amazing to me because my own kids can't sit still for five minutes. It's been wonderful. It's a very nice way to keep us connected," he says of their working together.

The elder Smith says this will be his final production to direct. The actors say this makes the moment bittersweet, but no less enjoyable.

"I don't really feel any of us have walked around thinking 'Gosh, this is his last show.' I think we are all just trying to put together a good production," says Smith. 

Heinritz agrees. "I get a real sense that he trusts us. I mean, bob is a wonderful director, and I think any show that an actor does is about fulfilling the vision of the director. It's like any other performance - you always do your best."

The Last of the Red Hot Lovers will be performed at The New Vic Theatre through August 2.