Thursday, July 28, 2011
George S. Kaufman wrote a lot of plays, with several collaborators, Moss Hart and Edna Ferber among them. Other than The Royal Family and The Man Who Came to Dinner, they are rarely revived, I assume because the casts are so large.
But this August, you get a chance to see one of Kaufman and Ferber's less revived plays, Stage Door. I have never seen it produced; I've only seen the movie (with an incredibly young Eve Arden cracking wise), though many years ago I used a monologue from it for auditions. Chelsea Repertory Company (I teach playwriting in their Lab) is reviving Stage Door at Shetler Studios' Theatre 54. Directed by John Grabowski, it runs August 4-6 and 11-13 at 8, August 6 and 13 at 2, August 7 at 3 and August 10 at 7. Tickets are $20 at the Door (I already have mine), or $18 through Smarttix (link above). It features a cast of 31 (!- when was the last time you saw 31 actors on stage in a straight play?), among them my playwriting student Gregory Cohan.
Here's the plot summary: The Footlights Club in New York City provides a home for the struggling stage actresses who meet the challenges of surviving the Depression and the ups and downs of the Broadway theater with charm and grit. Terry Randall, a headstrong and witty girl from the Midwest, is determined to become a leading actress on the Great White Way. While pursuing her career, she becomes involved with two completely different bachelors - the left-wing arrogant playwright Keith Burgess and David Kingsley, a well-groomed elegant film producer. Also residing at the Footlights Club is Jean Maitland, who lands the Holy Grail - a seven-year film contract; Kaye Hamilton, whose lack of stage success leads to suicide; Pat Devine, a nightclub dancer; and Linda Shaw, a society girl who shocks her mother by having an affair with a wealthy married man. Terry sticks to her guns and wins both the leading role in a Broadway play and the affections and respect of the man she loves.