note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark
Producer Wendy Oayne
Executive Producer Mary O'Laughlin
Set Design by Timothy Spencer
Costume Design by LDonna Plummer & Bridget Cullen
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkiewicz
Music by Kirk Torock
Artists Colleen Mesolella
Front of House Manager Sean Bennett
Assistant Stage Manager Duncan Jenner
Stage Manager Kat Moulison
Cable/Phone/Painter Guy...Sean Stanco
Steve Bluestein's "Gary's Gold" is really a love-letter to a departed friend. It is a little over an hour long, yet its three scenes are packed with such fond nostalgia that it feels a full evening. The play takes the form of cleaning out Gary's apartment and passing it on to strangers, but in each scene a family-member or friend who knew the man tries to explain to someone who didn't what was so special about him. This could be cloyingly sweet, but Bluestein's people bubble with glib, self-aware humor enough to maintain balance.
The motto of the producing company PSFilms is "Encouraging love and acceptance through performing arts" and there is indeed much more sweetness and light than conflict here --- and, yes, that "gold" is not bullion but metaphor. The play gets an A for effort, and Director Caitlin Lowans and a fine cast deal very gently with it.
The first pair here are Renee Miller as Gary's unreconstructed-hippie aunt, and Mike Pfaff as his younger brother who has thought a conversion from Jewishness did (or Should?) make his family hate him. The second scene finds nosy neighbor Jeffrey Gitelle checking on Santio Cupon, whom he first thinks is a Black street-punk but comes to realize is college-bound because Gary succeeded as his "Big Brother". The third scene finds Christopher Mack as an overly-trusting 21-year-old about to marry a hysterically anti-social perfectionist (Dorothy Eagle), who in short-order drives a painter, a phone installer and a cable-guy out the door unfulfilled with her tantrums. (Sean Stanco in quick-change quick scenes plays all three workmen.) It's Gary's fiancee (Elizabeth Olson) on another nostalgia-visit who talks sense into the young man.
Timothy Spencer has designed a Manhattan living room with white-latticed windows filling the space with Greg Jutkiewicz's airy light, Caitlin Lowans' direction keeps much of the banter light, but each actor knows when level-headed seriousness is needed. "Gary's Gold" hasn't a mean bone in its body; it's a feel-good play; but is that such a bad thing these days?
( a k a larry stark )