Aldersgate Church Community Theater The Solid Gold CadillacBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jun 28th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Aldersgate Church Community Theater
Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Alexandria, VA
Through July 10th
1:55 with one intermission
$15/$12 Youth, Senior
Reviewed June 25th, 2011
The Solid Gold Cadillac is a two act comedy by George S. Kaufman and Howard Teichman. Set in 1953, a stockholder’s meeting of a huge corporation is interrupted by a shareholder, who asks a simple question, “What does the chairman of the board do?” This causes an uproar that leads to a new position created for Mrs. Partridge basically to shut her up. More comedy ensues until the former chairman of the board resigns his post in Washington to return to New York to fix all the problems caused by the current board. With a Fairy Godmother narrator, this Cinderella story will eventually lead to a happy ending. Sort of.
Mrs. Partridge (played by Barbara Hayes) was an enthusiastically cheery woman who seemed to have a pretty fair conscience about doing the right thing and came across as sincere. At least until the last scene when another lady arrived as a potential usurper to the throne. Her abrupt end to the meeting seemed out of character from the rest of the show and a little disappointing, which is a problem with the script. Edward L. McKeever, the former CEO turned high-ranking appointee in Washington, was played by James McDaniel. He and Hayes had strong timing and made a good match both together and when confronting the evil board members. McDaniel also had to perform a dreadful bit as he was remembering a speech he gave in his youth. Carol Strachan as The Narrator kept the story moving along, although at times her role seemed superfluous. Mrs. Partridge’s secretary was also well cast. Played by Carole Steele, Steele had strong emotion as well as strong dedication to her employer/friend Laura. The Board of Directors didn’t display a wide range of emotion, appeared one-dimensional, and had a few problems with their lines.
The staging of the play was well thought out. Director Rosemary Hartman kept the actors moving, even when they were sitting down. This kept the energy up and allowed for the audience to have something to focus on. The set design, also by Rosemary Hartman, was well planned, using both Aldersgate’s stage and the two front corners of the seating area. The minimal set dressing and decorations may not all have been period appropriate, although there was a nice amount of contrast from corporate America to political America. Farrell Hardigan’s costumes were well done. Lighting and Sound effects were pretty well-coordinated. The light timing actually got faster as the evening wore on.
The Solid Gold Cadillac hasn’t aged well, with many obscure references. The humor is present, but scattered throughout the play, so it’s never quite able to overcome the script itself.
I first became aware of this play about 15 years ago when another actor friend handed it to me and suggested that I read it as a possible vehicle for the theatre group we with at the time. I am a George S. Kaufman fan, so, I read it, loved it, and have suggested the play to several theatre groups over the years, but there were no takers. Some felt it was dated, “an old chestnut” that audiences wouldn’t appreciate. Last year, our producer, Bailey Center, asked me to suggest some plays for Aldersgate Theatre that I would like to direct. I suggested The Solid Gold Cadillac and he loved it. We both agreed that although written in 1953, the subject matter was very relevant to today, i.e., greed on Wall Street, the near collapse of the banking system has made us all very aware of how the whole pernicious greed of individuals who control our money can place our whole system into jeopardy. Bernie Madoff is just one example. There are, unfortunately, many others. Seriousness aside, George S. Kaufmann and Howard Teichmann have given us a delicious, tongue in cheek look at the business world circa 1953, I guess the more things change the more they remain the same.
All those years ago, I had a particular actress friend in mind as a perfect candidate to play the role of Mrs. Partridge, but she had the nerve to move to Florida before I could get this play mounted. I am happy to say that I found the perfect cast for the show. I feel fortunate to be working with such a talented group of actors and we have had a lot of fun working on the show. I hope you will have as much fun watching it. My love and thanks to Bailey and his hard working crew, and to this wonderful cast.
Rosemary Hartman, Director
Photos by Howard Soroos
- Narrator: Carol Strachan
- T. John Blessington: Will Monahan
- Alfred Metcalfe: Bailey R. Center
- Warren Gillie: Joseph LeBlanc
- Clifford Snell: Dan Beck
- Mrs. Laura Partridge: Barbara Hayes
- Amelia Shotgraven: Carole Steele
- Mark Jenkins: Jerry Hoffman
- Miss L’Arriere: Melissa Purvis
- Edward L. McKeever: James McDaniel
- Miss Logan: Anne Monahan
- A.P. Reporter: Jerry Hoffman
- U.P. Reporter: Lisa J. Stedge
- I.N.S. Reporter: Melissa Purvis
- Bill Parker, Broadcaster: Jerry Hoffman
- Dianne Brookfield, Broadcaster: Lisa J. Stedge
- A Little Old Lady: Anne Monahan
- Director: Rosemary Hartman
- Producer: Bailey Center
- Set Design: Rosemary Hartman
- Set Construction: Stuart Travis and Bill Austin
- Set Painting: Toni A. Ward
- Set Decoration/Dressing: Christine Tankersley
- Properties: Sharon Connelly
- assisted by: Anne Monahan
- Light design: Chris Hardy
- Light Technician: Mark Poole
- Sound Design: Ben Allen
- Sound Technician: Morgan Vaughn
- Costumes: Farrell Hardigan
- Makeup: Cast
- Hair: Cast
- Publicity: Candy F. Cole
- Assisted by: Bill Austin, Amy Hurd, Andrew Cole, Ted Cole, Hattie Smith, Matthew Cole
- House Manager: Kacie Greenwood
- Stage Managers: Rachel Lau and Marg Soroos
- Concessions: Bill Austin
- Opening Night Reception: Bill Austin, Candy F. Cole, Ted Cole, Matthew Cole, Hattie Smith and Christy Tran
Disclaimer: Aldersgate Church Community Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6977.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.