MainStage Irving-Las Colinas
Director – Dave Schmidt
Scenic Design – Ellen Doyle Mizener
Costume Design – Emilee Kyle
Lighting Design – Ian Garland
Sound Design – Dave Schmidt
Miss Logan/Reporter – Corinne Christopher
Estelle/Miss L'Arriere/Reporter – Lori Jones
Mrs. Partridge – Dana Harrison
Miss Shotgraven – Stephanie Seidler
Mr. Snell – Craig Boleman
Mr. Metcalfe – Clayton Cunningham
Mark Jenkins – David Hartley
Mr. Parker/Reporter – Harry Liston
Narrator – Michael McNeil
Mr. McKeever – Allen Matthews
Mr. Gillie – Joe Porter
Mr. Blessington – Neil Rogers
Mr. Brookfield/Reporter – David Smith
Other Stockholders – Connie Dunn, Diane Kohsmann, Mary Bongfeldt, Jimmy Christopher, Michael McNeil, Ellen Mizener, Jeff Mizener, Kass Prince, and Natalie Williams
Reviewed Performance 3/21/2014
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
In 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower became president, Waiting for Godot premiered in Paris, The Crucible opened on Broadway, and George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann gave us their corporate fairytale The Solid Gold Cadillac. In a world quickly changing, post-World War II and beginning of “too big to fail” corporations, The Solid Gold Cadillac was a farcical hit, spawning a film of the same name in 1956, starring Judy Holliday and directed by Richard Quine.
The story follows the tale of a Cinderella-type character, Mrs. Partridge, as she disrupts the dastardly plans of the board of directors of General Products. She doesn't know or understand anything about business but her simple common sense causes the men much grief. When they give her a company position to keep her happy, out of their way, and under their control, they don't count on her friendly nature affecting the stock holders of the company. The play ends, as fairy tales always do, with a happy ending for Cinderella, as the narrator refers to Mrs. Partridge, and the villains getting what they deserve. Unfortunately, the play is over-simplified, not very engaging, and has scenes that take too long to get to their point. However, it is very funny and the actors deliver their one-liners superbly.
The reviewed performance experienced a severe disruption and the show put on hold near the end of the first act to tend to a medical emergency in the audience. The audience could do nothing but wait patiently, and I worried how this would affect the actors’ performance, but as the saying goes, “The show must go on,” and go on it did. After the emergency was handled and the audience resettled, the actors retook the stage and went on without missing a step. The professionalism of the cast and crew to continue on seemingly unaffected is truly commendable.
Musically, Dave Schmidt's preshow and intermission choices are wonderful. The simple melodies of the early 1950s fit this piece perfectly. Also, the sound of ringing phones, clacking typewriter and a newsroom printing machine melds into their scenes unobtrusively, adding layers of ambiance to the scenes.
The lighting design by Ian Garland is great, starting with rotating dollar signs projected on the curtain preshow. From there, well lit scenes perfectly define each stage area. There is even a spotlight for the audience, lit for the appearance of a stockholder with questions.
Ellen Mizener's box set design is terrifically simple. Most of the stage is dominated by the Chairman of the Board's office, while Mrs. Partridge's closet of an office is stuffed stage right. With help from Ian Garland's lighting design and a painted floor space, the two share the stage without distracting from each other. When Mrs. Partridge visits Mr. McKeever in Washington D.C., his office is a quick moving platform, rolled in front of the other sets and bordered by curtains, making the scene transition quick and easy, something I appreciate as an audience member.
Costumes for the show are appropriate for the time period and characters. However, some, like Dana Harrison's outfits, didn't fit properly. Craig Boleman's suit also appears a little long for his frame. All others fit fine.
Dana Harrison is a brilliant casting choice for the spirited Mrs. Partridge. She has the correct personality for such a role as well as the comedic skill to land the one-liners George S. Kaufman has written for Mrs. Partridge. Her performance makes a great backbone for this production.
As John Blessington, Neil Rogers plays the greedy, womanizing chairman of the board with careful restraint. He is a good leader of his small band of corporate goons. He is always ready with a devilish plan presented with a charming grin, which Rogers pulls off in such a way to make me nervous for my wallet.
Joe Porter plays the wormy, little secretary of the board, Mr. Gillie. He has the meek voice and mannerisms ideal for this character. He's unassertive around the other board members and is easily over-powered in conversation.
Craig Boleman, on the other hand, has the large, brash, loud personality befitting Clifford Snell. With his first line delivered in the stockholders’ meeting at the top of the play, he defines his character with his powerful voice. He also presents a large, toothy, predatory grin we can all recognize in a smarmy character up to no good.
Alfred Metcalfe is the board of directors’ character that shows the greatest conflict with how the rest of the board is running the company. He goes along with them but sometimes has the desire to do the right thing by Mrs. Partridge. However, in each situation greed takes over his decision-making and he is no better than the rest. Clayton Cunningham plays him well as an “out-to-lunch” style characterization; someone just riding out their days until retirement, trying to get as much as they can out of the company. He's nowhere near as strong or assertive as Boleman as Clifford Snell nor as wily as Neil Rogers as John Blessington but he is an integral part of the group.
Mrs. Partridge would not be able to accomplish anything if it weren't for her supporting cast, each of whom are equally fantastic in their parts; especially Allen Matthews as Ed McKeever, the boisterous and business savvy former Chairman of the Board of General Products who takes a position in Washington D.C. However, his shining moment comes when he presents a recitation McKeever gave as a boy at school in such a humorous overwrought fashion, wildly fluctuating his speech and thrashing about.
Stephanie Seidler, as Miss Shotgraven, is the first to be affected by Mrs. Partridge's effervescent personality. Seidler first portrays Shotgraven as a stuck-up, all business secretary, then to a more open and caring individual. Even her voice softens from the sharp and direct tone she uses in the first scene. It is a marvelous transition that is always fun to watch take place on stage.
Although The Solid Gold Cadillac has lengthy scenes that tend to drag on, the cast makes it a thoroughly fun and watchable play. Dana Harrison is remarkable in her role and well supported by all around her. It is certainly worth a date night viewing.
THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC
MainStage Irving - Las Colinas
Irving Arts Center, Dupree Theatre, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Irving, TX7 5062
Runs through April 5th
Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm, Sunday at 2:30pm. Additional performance on Thursday, April 3rd at 8:00pm Friday ,Saturday and Sunday tickets are $21.00, $19.00for seniors/students. Thursday tickets are $18.00, $16.00for seniors/students ($1.50 fee added for each ticket).For tickets and info go to http://www.irvingtheatre.org/ or call their box office at 972-252-2787.