Charlotte Players is going all in with “Jack of Diamonds,” a timely comedy
opening on Nov. 7 for nine performances through Nov. 17 at the Langdon
Playhouse, 1182 Market Circle, Port Charlotte. “Fast-paced and funny,” said
one reviewer, “ ‘Jack of Diamonds’ elevates silliness to art.”

Jack (Jim Choate) weighs the value of a diamond necklace before a hopeful,
from left, Rose (Barbara Holmes), Flora (Barbara Hankins) and Blanche
(Joanie Anton).

The silliness concerns Jack, a former jeweler who made his living buying
and selling diamonds via late-night TV ads. He lives in a rather luxurious,
privately owned retirement home along with his fellow residents, including
the visually challenged techno-wizard Rose, the artistically gifted but
forgetful Flora and the narcoleptic beauty Blanche.

Nurse Harper (J.J. Juliano) pleads with Barney (Mike Levasseur) to take her
with him as he escapes.

Unbeknownst to the four of them, the man to whom they’ve entrusted their
life savings – a smooth-talking financial advisor named Barney Effward –
has been arrested for bilking his clients out of their savings through a
Ponzi scheme. Faced with financial ruin, the four suddenly find themselves
confronting the author of their miserable fate when Effward is unexpectedly delivered among them…along with several million dollars in diamonds.

Looking for liquor in the window seat, Barney (Mike Levasseur) is surprised
by Jack (Jim Choate), and vice versa.

Pandemonium ensues as the four retirees try to find a way to exact their
revenge, recoup their losses, and keep the authorities from discovering
their plans.

Flora’s (Barbara Hankins) reaction to the return of swindler Barney (Mike
Levasseur), behind the couch, petrifies friends, from left, Rose (Barbara
Holmes), Jack (Jim Choate) and Blanche (Joanie Anton).

Jenni Elliott is directing the comedy, written by Marcia Kash and Douglas
E. Hughes. The authors have collaborated on five plays, the first of which,
“Who’s Under Where?” has been translated into six languages.

Jenni Elliott, director of “Jack of Diamonds.”

This is Ms. Elliott’s second directorial effort with the Charlotte Players,
following last season’s hit “Jack Benny’s Not 39 Anymore.”

“I’m delighted to be invited to direct for Charlotte Players again,” she
said. “I believe theater should be first and foremost entertainment, and I
don’t think audiences will be disappointed with ‘Jack of Diamonds.’ ”

An actor and director for years in her native Australia, Ms. Elliott has
maintained both roles with the Charlotte Players, Lemon Bay Playhouse and
Venice Theatre since arriving in Florida from Melbourne just six years ago.
In Adelaide, South Australia, she worked alongside her father learning the
directorial craft. She then graduated to directing on her own with two
one-act plays that both won the Best Production Award at the Hills Drama
Festival in Adelaide.

Hiding behind the couch, Barney (Mike Levasseur) fears discovery by Blanche
(Joanie Anton) and Jack (Jim Choate).

Next came full-length plays she directed, including “A Month of Sundays,”
“The Bride and the Bachelor,” “Midsummer Mink” and “A Shot in the Dark.”
She directed “Later Life” and “Looking” at the Lemon Bay Playhouse.

“Jack of Diamonds” runs through Nov. 17, with evening performances on
weekdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets
are $22 for adults and $11 for students. A complete schedule is available
at the Players website, You can buy your tickets
there or by calling 941-255-1022 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Thinking he’s possessed of some canine virus, swindler Barney (Mike
Levasseur) acknowledges his attorney, Mortimer (Mike Darcey), while Jack
(Jim Choate) looks on in disbelief.

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