Midtown International Theatre Festival
Exec. Producer: John Chatterton
Assoc. Producer: Theater Resources Unlimited
Managing Director: Emileena Pedigo
Marketing Director: Bob Ost
Press: Judd Hollander/Cynthia Leathers
Festival Lighting Designer: Gustavo Araoz
Venue Manager, Where Eagles Dare: Sarah Bellin
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Jonathan Jackson
Venue Manager, WorkShop Theatre: Stephanie Ward
Box Office Managers: Jenny Greeman, Colleen Jasinski
July 16, 2007-August 5, 2007
Two Plays about New-Found Success
Produced by Michael Roderick
Production Stage Manager: Rachel S. Rudnick
Written, Music, Lyrics By Ronnie Cohen
Choreographed and Directed by Heidi Lauren Duke
Musical Director: Daniel Cataneo
Press: Penny Landau/Maya PR
Featuring: Jason Adamo, Fiona Choi,
Leslie Anne Friedman, Ryan Hilliard,
Jen Percival, Theresa Rose, Jonathan Whitton,
Joshua Walter, Chelsea Costa, Nicole Dalto
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
(Wildcat Production Website)
By George Axelrod
Directed by Holly-Anne Ruggiero
Featuring: Jennifer Danielle, Nick Mannex, Morgan Sills,
Eric Rubbe, Tuck Milligan, Ed Crescimanni,
Maria Teresa Creasey, Ryan Cross
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2007
The Street, by Ronnie Cohen with Jane Beale, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, by George Axelrod, are both smash hits, the latter from 1955 (a Broadway hit with Jayne Mansfield, Orson Bean, and Walter Matthau) and the former a new musical comedy with some choreography to boot. Both plays revolve around the theme of new-found success, with the ladies on The Street making a killing on the market, thanks to a chance opportunity and a gutsy risk, and with the stagnant playwright suddenly meeting the Hollywood devil who sells success for a piece of the soul.
The Street is literally a brilliant musical, with brisk dialogue, romantic dialogue, sincere dialogue, and entertaining dialogue, all sharp, clever, and set to hummable melodies in solos and ensemble. The Street has a book that builds momentum and grabs the audience from the very first notes, professionally played on piano by Daniel Cataneo, Musical Director, whose expression illustrated the intended emotion of the moment. Whitney and Tiki are young women on the move, with an investment firm and gym-fit presence. Tiki is proudly Chinese and Fiona Choi works the cultural role to its fullest potential, always with respect and class. Leslie Ann Friedman, as Whitney, is one determined woman on a mission of success.
Tiki soon becomes seduced by Nick, a Greek restaurateur, and the food descriptions, such as in the song, “Shellfish, a Love Song”, were always authentic and made me crave just such a bistro with just such a charming proprietor. And, Whitney becomes financially seduced by Brighton (Ryan Hilliard), who comes calling for private school connections. His hilarious boss, Jill (Theresa Rose), CEO of a cosmetic firm, has twins with her female companion, and Whitney’s alma mater is just the school they need. Jill is eventually seduced by the private school’s prospective parent interview specialist. The Wall Street office maid, Dolores (Jen Percival) leads a double life, and her solo, “It Must Be Me”, was grand. There are too many scenes, songs, and sub-plots to detail, but surely The Street will find an Off-Broadway home very soon. This is potentially a long-running cult play that could seduce any audience.
Cast of THE STREET
Photo courtesy of Anthony Collins
Cast of THE STREET
Photo courtesy of Anthony Collins
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? has been hidden away for over 50 years, and what a shame. The film version, also starring Ms. Mansfield, was produced with a new plot. A blonde bombshell actress, Rita Marlowe (Jennifer Danielle), is seen as the audience takes its seats, as she lies on a massage table with but a white towel and a hunk of a masseur. But, there’s no plot there. The plot builds with the arrival of a journalist fan on an interview mission, George MacCauley (Morgan Sills), who makes a deal with a genie turned devil, Irving Lasalle (Tuck Milligan) for a series of wishes, each costing 10% of his soul. Early wishes get him money, clothes, and the blonde. Later wishes get him writing skills, an award-winning script, and even some muscles and guts. But, there’s a moral here, and getting too much success can be sometimes more stressful than being empty-handed, as George was a few scenes ago.
Michael Freeman (Eric Rubbe), Rita’s first beau, is offered some bonus rewards. Harry Kaye (Ed Crescimanni) is the head of a film studio, and he is quite engaging. A couple of minor characters fill the plot details, and the costumes by Maria Zamansky and sets by Anne Allen Goelz add dazzle and pizzazz to this fast-paced comedy. The late George Axelrod wrote the screenplays for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Manchurian Candidate, and Bus Stop, plus Broadway’s The Seven Year Itch. For this reason, it’s possible that Rita Marlowe was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, another blonde bombshell actress with fans who would sell their souls for a kiss. I certainly hope it’s not another 50 years until this show is staged again, not even 50 weeks. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, the name of George’s first and only interview, is an iconic play.
WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER?
Photo courtesy of Wildcat Theatricals
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