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The Money in Uncle George’s Suitcase
a Comedy
by Pat Cook

ID# 4560

SHOWING : March 07, 2014 - March 30, 2014



When Uncle George invites his whole family up for a weekend of fun at his rustic cabin, he actually wants them together so he can read his will. But between the bequeathing and his rambling stories, George drops the bomb that somewhere on the property is a suitcase holding four hundred and eighty thousand dollars! What follows is a hilarious farce of pettiness, slander, and greed. The relatives end up wrestling each other, falling down the stairs, and getting stuck in the furniture. "Yep, we’re gonna have lots of fun!" says George as he’s seen carrying a shovel out the front door. But George’s gift is much more important than mere money, even though the relatives don’t see it that way – at first.

Director Pete Borden
Margaret Tracey Egan
Mitch Robert McMullen
Chelsey Sophia Netturo
Mamie Jo Katherine Powers
George Ed Sims
Gloria Beth Stafford
Joanne Lauren Terrell
Andrew Chris Voss
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The Funny in Uncle George’s Suitcase
by playgoer
Monday, March 31, 2014
ACT1 Theater presents family-friendly productions of plays that are often targeted specifically at community theatres. "The Money in Uncle George’s Suitcase" falls soundly in that category. Pat Cook’s script sets up a situation of family discord, involving a hidden suitcase with thousands of dollars, that is resolved with family harmony at play’s end.

Long-winded Uncle George is played ably by Ed Sims. His folksy tales contain a lot of humor, and his down-to-earth attitude grounds the play. His sisters are played by Katherine Powers as Mamie Jo, who has the same sort of Southern-tinged accent as George, and Tracy Egan as Margaret, who has a pronounced mid-Western twang. They don’t really come across as siblings, but the acting is fine by community theatre standards.

They are joined at Uncle George’s rustic home by the daughters of the two sisters and their families. Margaret’s daughter Joanne is played by Lauren Terrell with level-headed charm. Her husband Mitch, who bears the brunt of the physical comedy, is played with good-natured exasperation by Rob McMullen. Their young teen daughter Chelsey is portrayed by Sophia Netturo, who does a nice job of transitioning from a spoiled city brat to a country-loving kid.

Mamie Jo’s daughter is Gloria, played by Beth Stafford as a socialite with refined sensibilities. Her characterization is perhaps the most consistent of the actors’. Her scheming husband is played by Chris Voss with an off-putting, prissy artificiality.

Director Pete Borden has paid little attention to pace, although his blocking usually provides good sightlines on the often crowded stage. In the scenes following heavy meals, the slowness of line delivery amplifies the slowness of the movements of the actors to bring the show to a near-standstill. There are few moments in the show when there is true fluidity in the action.

Technically, the show shines. Murray Mann’s lighting does all it needs to do, and his sound effects are splendid, particularly for lines spoken in and to the offstage cellar. The set (manager Rich Vandever, construction Andy Miyakawa, assistant Dan Whitlock) gives a nice rustic feel, although the upstage windows might have been more effective were there some distance between the window panes and the painted woodsy background. Costumes (manager Anne Voller, assistants Beth Velazquez and Erica Scannavino) are excellent, as always, with Mitch’s multiple outfits varied and believable, although Gloria’s outfits are a bit over-the-top glitzy for a weekend in the country.

The absolute knockout in technical terms is found in Debbie Wachsman’s props. Uncle George’s cabin is filled with taxidermy, carvings, and rustic knicknacks. They all work well. The only slight misstep is in a dog carving, which is supposed to look like a border collie puppy according to the script, but which seems more to be a German shepherd. It does appear to be a recently-made carving, though, and I place it at director Pete Borden’s feet that lines weren’t tweaked to make the prop fit better into the script.

The before-curtain speech by Mr. Borden is humorously charming, and he urges patrons to congratulate the actors in the lobby if they have enjoyed the show, and to slip out quietly if they haven’t. To sum it up, I saw a number of people using the side exit after curtain calls. The show is not bad by any means, but it’s not a production to engender hearty recommendations to friends to come see it. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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