Wally's Cafe

Starring James Coco, Rita Moreno, Sally Struthers. Comedy by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark. Directed by Fritz Holt. This plastic farce at the Brooks Atkinson Theater might have strayed onto Broadway from the sitcom world of television. It takes place in the middle of the California desert, where Wally (James Coco) and Louise (Rita Moreno) have fulfilled Wally's lifelong ambition by opening a hamburger stand. Unfortunately, it proves too far off the highway to attract customers and patently inferior to Bernie's, the prospering eatery across the road.

Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark dish up gags like a pair of tireless cooks behind a fast-food counter. Their eager-to- please scenario traces the misfortunes of Wally and Louise over the decades in three episodic leads: the summers of 1940, 1958, and the present. The hapless restaurateurs are joined at their otherwise deserted oasis by Janet (Sally Struthers), a pretty but horrendously untalented aspirant for Hollywood stardom.

Under the direction of Fritz Holt, the trio of accomplished farceurs plays the Bobrick-Clark cartoon with broad strokes and comic exaggeration as the actors work their way through the menu of wisecracks, one-liners, double takes, and sight gags. The audience at the final preview found the bill of fare uproarious. "Wally's Cafe" may quite possibly become a popular item on the summer-theater package circuit. At the Brooks Atkinson the wind-up foolishness enjoyed the advantages of a hamburger-like setting by Stuart Wurtzel, lighting by Ken Billington, and costumes by Albert Wolsky.

Historic footnote: "Wally's Cafe" open s the 1981-82 Broadway season.

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