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The Arlington Players Promises, Promises

By • Oct 9th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Promises, Promises
The Arlington Players
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through October 20th
2:30 with one intermission
$23/$20 Seniors and Juniors
Reviewed October 7th, 2012

Promises, Promises is a musical by Burt Bacharach, book by Neil Simon, lyrics by Hal David, based on the screenplay “The Apartment” by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. Chuck Baxter, a likeable, average Joe (Charlie Brown all grown up?) has tried unsuccessfully to make it up the corporate ladder the ethical way. After letting it slip that he lives by himself in a one-bedroom flat a mere block or two from the office, a ladder seems to descend and Baxter is suddenly a corporate executive with his own table in the executive dining room. All he has to do is vacate his apartment a few nights a week for an hour or two (or three, or four) while the other executives bring their “lady friends up to his place for some entertaining.” A complex score adds to the upbeat sound of this musical. While not outstanding, The Arlington Players delivers a solid production in their return to the Thomas Jefferson Theater.

Patrick M. Doneghy plays the “lovable loser” Chuck Baxter. His strong voice carried well and his fascination with breaking the fourth wall to engage the audience adds to his charisma. He is heartfelt, although unsure, but comes through when it counts.

Doneghy’s leading lady is Fran Kubelik, played by Lauren Palmer Kiesling. The two have a comfortable friendship, despite Doneghy sometimes taking the relationship to a new level in his mind. The frequent asides and imaginary conversations in Baxter’s mind were funny, reminiscent of Walter Mitty’s adventures. Kiesling made Fran (I can’t think of the cafeteria lady as Ms. Kubelik) sweet, yet guarded, but is also hiding a big skeleton in her closet, which is revealed by the bitter and angry Miss Olson (Karen Toth). That reveal causes Fran’s world to come crashing down resulting in some drastic measures. J.D. Sheldrake is the slimy, chauvinistic executive who goes through women like tissue paper. David Boleyn plays the character strong, but could have showed more emotion in the apartment scenes and when talking on the phone. As a high level executive he needed to show a bit more exasperation and reaction to Baxter’s conversation.

The ensemble kept the tempo up, while the choreography was energetic and fast-paced. The song “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” featuring Baxter and Fran needed a touch more emotion from the two leads, although it was a humorous number.

The Thomas Jefferson Community Center is a huge space. Set Designer David Means made a wise move when building the set to make each scene compact and centered the action and the actors so that the space was not spread out. A gorgeous New York City skyline anchored the backdrop of the set. The setting for Promises, Promises was the late 1960’s. Grant Kevin Lane’s costumes were attractive. The hairdos were simple, nice, but simple.

Despite a few plot similarities with How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, TAP’s Promises, Promises was a positively funny show that did not take itself or the audience too seriously.

Director’s Notes

Promises, Promises debuted in Washington DC in 1968 before opening on Broadway. It marked a generational change for the American musical. POP song writers (Bacharach and David) collaborated with Broadway’s Neil Simon to bring Billy Wilder’s movie “The Apartment,” to the musical stage. The title of the show seems to have been prescient. The company included a gaggle or future Broadway powerhouses — Donna McKechnie, Ken Howard, Baayork Lee, Marion Mercer — along with a young choreographer on the rise, Michael Bennett. (Jerry Orbach was an established leading man). Broadway, 1968, was all about a new set of voices — Hair, and The Great White Hope, versus the establishment 1776, and George M!. The summer of love — 1967 — was reaching main stream America.

Tonight you will see the original script and score, not the 2010 revival. Members of our production team were taken to see the original production while still in their nappies (okay, I made that up) but some of us have joyous memories of our generation coming of age. And the rest of you can soak up the all new Bacharach sound for the first time — and rejoice in a show which redefined the two most important words in the English language — musical comedy.

Photo Gallery

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Photo 3 Photo 4
Photo 5

Photos by Peter Hill

Cast

  • Chuck Baxter: Patrick M. Doneghy
  • J.D. Sheldrake: David Boleyn
  • Fran Kubelik: Lauren Palmer Kiesling
  • Mr. Dobitch: Steve Dasbach
  • Sylvia Gilhooley; Ensemble: Jordan Lark
  • Mr. Kirkeby: Michael Toth
  • Ginger; Ensemble: Mary Leaphart
  • Mr. Eichelberger: Richard Dew
  • Vivien; Ensemble: Nora Zanger
  • 1st Girl: Tammy Lauver
  • 2nd Girl: Susan Dye
  • Dr. Dreyfuss: Chip Crews
  • Mr. Vanderhof: Sidney Davis
  • Nurse Kreplinsky; Ensemble: Joelle Thomas
  • Company Doctor; Bartender Eugene; Ensemble: Brian Clarke
  • Company Nurse; Ensemble: Libby Dasbach
  • Miss Olson: Karen Toth
  • Hostess; Ensemble: Nikki Hoffpauir
  • Miss Wong: Christina Addabbo Prete
  • Miss Polansky: Jamie Sinks
  • Miss Della Hoya: Maria Watson
  • Marge MacDougall: Karen Batra
  • Karl Kubelik; Ensemble: Mark Bolden
  • Mrs Sheldrake; Ensemble: Abbey Smith
  • Orchestra Voices: Susan Dye, Tammy Lauver, Betsy Libretta, Cynthia McDermott, and Linda Wilson

Orchestra

  • Conductor: Matthew Martz
  • Reeds: Gwyn Jones, Blake Rose, Stanley Potter, Dana Gardner (Sub)
  • Trombone: Eric Lindberg, Darrell Wyrick
  • French Horn: Mark Deal
  • Violins: Steve Natrella, Andrew Bogart
  • Percussion: Jackie Bradley

Production Team

  • Producer: Betsy Libretta
  • Director: John Moran
  • Choreographer: Doug Yeuell
  • Music Director: Jason Sherlock
  • Stage Manager: Arthur Rodger
  • Conductor: Matthew Martz
  • Set Design: David Means
  • Technical Coordinator: Phil Railsback
  • Scenic Artist: Don Libretta
  • Properties Design: Dottie Holmgren
  • Set Dressing: Lindsey Hays
  • Lighting Design: Dan Covey
  • Sound Design: Drew Moberley
  • Costume Design: Grant Kevin Lane
  • Make Up & Hair Design: Joel Furtick
  • Master Electrician: AnnMarie Castrigno
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Dina Green, George Sinks
  • Assistant Properties Designer: Ashley Johnson
  • Set Construction Crew: Michael deBlois, Scott Drew, Peter Finkel, Richard Garey, Ernst Harmse, William Kolodrubetz, Drew Moberley, Earl B.C. Peterlin, Arthur Pleasants, Bill Wisniewski
  • Charge Painters: Karinn Cologne, Dan Dodge, Joeleen Dodge, Scott Drew, Barbara Esquibel, Nikki Hoffpauir, Earl B.C. Peterlin, Karen Toth, Irene Wittig, Wayne Wittig
  • Costume Construction: Kevin Lane
  • Wardrobe Crew: Wendy Boehm, Cody Boehm, Irene Molnar, Kevin Lane
  • Stage Crew: Katie Lewis, Jonathan Mittaz
  • Sound Crew: Chris Kagy, Kieth Bell
  • Spot Light Operator: Brian McInnis
  • Auditions: Amanda Acker, Karen Batra, Scott Drew, Joel Furtick, Dina Green, Judy Lewis, Katie Lewis, Jonathan Mittaz, Jayn Rife, Arthur Rodger, Steven Yates
  • Photography: Peter Hill
  • Program: Nikki Hoffpauir
  • Logo Design: James Villarrubia
  • Box Office: Barbara Esquibel

Disclaimer: The Arlington Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. TAP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.

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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.

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