2nd Story Theatre Company's winter show is George M. Cohan's 1913 melodramatic mystery farce "Seven Keys to Baldpate". The story takes place in the middle of winter with snow falling at a deserted summer inn. Author William Magee is a pop novelist who makes a bet that he can write a novel while locked away for 24 hours. He usually writes melodramatic romances and makes a bet that he can write a 10,000 word novel while looked up in the mysterious inn. The owner, Hal Bently gives Magee the only key to the inn so he won't be bothered while he tries to write the novel. However many different types of people show up with keys of their own during the long winter night. These characters include a newspaper reporter, Mary Norton and her chaperone, Mrs. Rhodes; John Bland, a man with a gun, Peters, the hermit, the vamp, Myra Thornhill and the crooked mayor with his crony, Lou Max to name a few. There are many clever twists and turns in this story that will keep you on the edge of your seat which includes a ghost, a fight over $200,000, a dead body, gunshots and of course seven keys. Director Ed Shea once again comes up with a winning show which he infuses with magnetic performances by his talented 14 member cast.
Ed gives each of the cast their moment to shine in his show. The gorgeous lodge set is by Trevor Elliott and the lovely costumes are by Jessie Darrell. Leading this huge cast is Ara Bohigian as Magee. He is a very talented actor and is dynamic and dashing as this early twentieth century writer who must rescue the damsel in distress while finishing his novel to try to win the bet. Ara delivers a tour-de-force performance, hardly leaving the stage during this 80 minute show. He has done a variety of roles including dramatic ones in "Take Me Out" and "A Few Good Men", comic ones in "Lost in Yonkers" and "The Rose Tattoo". Ara played a villain in "The Mousetrap" and in this show is the hero of the piece. His interactions with his cast mates are terrific and he keeps your attention for the whole show. This is one more feather in his cap. Other comic performers include pretty red head, Erin Elliot as Mary, who falls in love with Magee at first sight, Tanya Anderson as the mysterious Myra who might be a damsel in distress or maybe not, Jim Sullivan as the crooked mayor and Jeff DiSisto as his henchman who falls to his knees to confess his transgressions in a comical moment. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is John Michael Richardson as Peters, the hermit who hates men, women and children. His entrances are scary but in a comical way, winning him a multitude of laughter. Brendan Macera who just graduated from RIC last year makes his debut at 2nd Story as Hal Bently, the owner who reveals a secret near the end of the show. For a look back at a farcical melodrama, be sure to catch "Seven Keys to Baldpate" before the 24 hours runs out for Magee. I have pleasant memories of this show having played Peters, the hermit back in 1981.