Corny Antics from Pittsburgh to London – a review of “Serenade”

By Claire DeMarco

Tess Townley (Rachel Lewandowski) is a psychologist.  She is also a bit wacky, enthusiastic, prone to jump into situations where she often causes more problems than solutions.  Her friend and colleague, Owen York (Garrett Galcik) are great friends with York wishful that the relationship could be deeper. Owen refers to her as “I Love Lucy with a phd”.

Following the cries of a missing cat, Tess meets the cat’s owner, Englishman Terrence Wakefield (Sam Ruffino).  Time is as fast-paced as the play’s action and Tess and Terrence immediately fall in love with a promise to meet in London on Christmas Eve.

Tess interacts with a menagerie of different people as her journey to London progresses.

Religious Sisters Manchester – Terrier Vashon (Vivian Rose Ferris) and Chautauqua Thibault (Ellie Troiani) interact with Tess at the airport and on the plane.

Wink Shanahan (Benjamin Steffey), a well-known Cornhole Champion (and Tess’s brother-in-law) is also off to England for a large International Cornhole competition.

Note:  Wink is also on the same plane.

Does Tess meet up with Terrence in London?  Is there a happy ending?  What happens to the nuns and of course, Wink, our world class cornholer?

Lewandowski’s Tess is energetic and sometimes child-like.  She is especially funny as she gets stuck attempting to exit a window, legs and butt hanging and flailing frantically.

Galcik is convincing as the solemn, downtrodden, depressed professor.

Ruffino’s English accent is spot on, portraying Terrence as the typical steady Brit.

Ferris and Troiani work well together.  Troaini’s character plays the old school nun (with ever present ruler in hand) while Ferris represents the more modern, compromising nun.

“Serenade” is a buffet of corny, crazy actions as we follow Tess on her wild journey from Pittsburgh to London.

Note:  These antics are presented in an over-the-top frantic way that at times becomes a distraction.

The world-wide premiere of “Serenade” was written by Timothy Ruppert.


 “Serenade” is a production of the Red Masquers at Duquesne University’s Genesius Theater. It runs from March 23 through April 2. For more information, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *