Hassler Theater goes out with a laugh


PLAINVIEW — The Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview is closing next month, but there's still a lot of life left in the "Don't Hug Me"franchise of plays that have been so popular at the Hassler.

The latest, "Don't Hug Me We're Married,"which opened last week at the Hassler, is evidence that the series has not yet run out of gas — or gags. This is the fifth show in the playwright Phil Olson's"Don't Hug Me" line, and while it might not be the best, it is every bit as entertaining as its cousins.

In fact, "Don't Hug Me We're Married" feels more up-to-date, with jokes and references to pop culture that don't seem as dated as some of those in the earlier shows.

Generally, though, what you're getting with "Don't Hug Me We're Married" is standard-issue, Minnesota-based, low-brow comedy and musicrevolving around the characters who frequent the Bunyan Bay bar.

They are Clara and Gunner, the bickering couple who own the bar; Bernice, the wanna-be singing star; Aarvid, the music machine salesman; and Kanute, the dorky but wealthy local businessman. As an added bonus, in this edition we get the return of Trigger, Gunner's bull-in-a-china-shop sister.


Ross Youngcontinues to be the centerpiece of the cast, a sympathetic man's man who tosses off lines like "When a man brings his wife flowers for no reason, believe me, there's a reason," and then dons a wig and a dressto play Trigger.

Speaking of Trigger, she/he's the character who lights a fire under this play, and the shenanigans involving a longstanding family feud that prevent Trigger and Gunner from ever being in the same room at the same time (Trigger: "I think you know why.") constitute some of the suspense of the show.

The rest of the story involves the impending nuptials of Aarvid (Michael Lee)and Bernice (the multi-talented Emily Moore), and Kanute (Paul Somers)and his unfortunate engagement to Trigger. Without giving too much away, we will say a wedding takes place. You'll have to see the play to find out the identity of the lucky couple.

Songs include the hilarious "The Day That Bob Dylan Was Here," but in general, this play is carried more by the antics and dialogue of the characters than by the songs they sing.

In any event, "Don't Hug Me We're Married" is a great way for the Hassler to exit the scene— and to leave us wishing that in years to come we could again hear such laughter echo off the walls of the converted implement dealership that became the home of so many challenging and entertaining plays.

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