While many people head out to Bethlehem in December to get their Christmas cards postmarked from the quaint Connecticut town, Bethlehem is also quite the place to be in the summer when The Gary, The Olivia Theatre presents its summer productions.
Located on the beautiful grounds of the Abbey at Regina Laudis, where actress Dolores Hart became a nun and now serves as Mother Superior, the theater offers productions that are always tastefully done and perfect family fare. It’s a summer destination located just outside of Woodbury.
Currently, the theater is presenting “The Solid Gold Cadillac” by George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichmann. Who would think that a play that first saw production in 1953 would be as timely as it is today?
We’re talking about a play that focuses on corporate greed. However, things turn around for General Products Corporation when a 10-share stockholder takes on the corrupt board of directors.
The Bethlehem production of this comedy, excellently directed by Sally and Thomas Camm, is a reminder that the “little” man or woman still has power. Laura Partridge, played superbly by Kelly Mehiel, attends a stockholders meeting and begins to question everything that the board does to earn its salaries and bonuses. Just to shut her up, the board hires her in a do-nothing-but-stay-out-of-our-way position. After stirring up a lot of attention from other “little” stockholders, she ends up practically running the company.
While the premise is far-fetched, it is a heartwarming experience to watch the “big boys” fall like dominos. What’s more, it is all quite humorous and a great way to spend a summer evening. The cast for this show is quite good, with many exceptional performances by Kelly Mehiel, John Fabiani, Joe Stofko, Eric Bloomquist and Br. Kevin McElroy. Other members of the cast include: Melissa Buriak, Mark Gardner, Lorinda Church, Robert Peterson, Elizabeth Peterson, and Alexandra Camm.
At one point, Mr. Fabiani as the original chairman of the board Edward L. McKeever, who is also a would-be-actor, rolls up his pants and recreates a role he played in school. The audience loves it. Mr. Fabiani jumps up on a desk, runs around the stage, and all the while the audience howls with laughter. This popular actor knows just how to milk a scene.
Eric Blooomquist, who plays the role of numbers man Clifford Schnell, is so good in his portrayal that you can’t wait for the haughty accountant to get what he deserves — getting fired. Joe Stofko is so good, you’ll wonder why he’s not on Broadway. All in all, this is an outstanding production. The first act drags just a bit, but picks up speed and laughter in the second act.
Kudos must go to set designer Br. Kevin McElroy, who created such a realistic set that one woman in the audience swore that there were glass windows on the outdoor set. Cleverly designed and constructed, this production is as entertaining as it is uplifting.
Well staged, blocked to perfection, and smartly directed, this production comes pretty close to solid gold. It runs through this weekend. Box office: 203- 273-5669.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS-CT. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]