The Curious Savage ( Stella Adler Theatre; 99 seats; $ 20 top) Judy Arnold Prods. in association with the Stella Adler Theatre presents "The Curious Savage ," a play in two acts by John Patrick, directed by Robert Mandan. Set design, Giatheatrics; lighting design, Jason Mullen; sound design, Schildkraut/Stenshoel. Opened and reviewed Nov. 22, 1996; runs until Dec. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 10 min. Cast: Patricia Fraser (Ethel), Jeffrey David Pomerantz (Titus), Raleigh Scovel (Samuel), Sandra Tucker (Lily Belle), Sarah Lilly (Miss Wilhelmina), Timothy Oman (Dr. Emmett), Saxon Trainor (Florence), Jack Rodgers (Hannibal), Marjorie Bowman (Fairy May), James Kelton (Jeffrey), Irene Gilbert (Mrs. Paddy). John Patrick's quaint but lightweight 1950s comedy is in the tradition of such works as "You Can't Take It With You" and "Harvey," wherein the eccentric folk turn out wiser and more humane than the supposed sane-and-normal people around them. Director Robert Mandan has gathered a competent cast, but offers no insight to raise this museum piece from the community theater environs in which it belongs. Patrick's plot is tidy and oh so predictable, blithely ignoring a few flaws in logic. The action centers on elderly widow Ethel Savage (Patricia Fraser), whose three grown stepchildren have committed her to a country club-like sanitarium. The trio is desperately trying to wrest control of the $ 10 million family fortune from Ethel. It is never explained how they manage to get her committed when they have no legal control over her. Their stepmother, in turn, has exhibited her mental instability by becoming (at her late age) an actress and by wanting to use the family's millions to set up a foundation to subsidize individuals who want to fulfill their dreams, no matter how foolish they may seem to others. Naturally, Ethel discovers the sanitarium is inhabited by a lot of gentle crazy folk who immediately surround her with the love and understanding she never received from her own kin. Even the sanitarium staff, Miss Wilhelmina (Sarah Lilly) and Dr. Emmett (Timothy Oman), are warm and fuzzy. Mandan's straightforward staging fails to highlight the potential comedic moments; the actors, however, mange to bail him out, especially the five sanitarium "crazies." Patricia Fraser offers a gentle but keenly observant presence as Ethel, expertly serving as a low-keyed catalyst to the zaniness of the inmates and histrionics of her family members. Operating on that same level is Sarah Lilly's Miss Wilhelmina, who exudes an aura of intense interest in the actions of the others while always remaining subdued and distant. Timothy Oman's Dr. Emmett is quietly effective in his role as a philosophical referee to everyone's demands. The true stars of the show are sanitarium's residents: the hilarious Marjorie Bowman as the hyperactive, love-starved Fairy Mae, who adores making up stories and lifting her skirt; the nerd-to-the-hilt performance of Jack Rodgers as the accountant, Hannibal, who imagines himself to be an expert violinist even though he can't play a note; the achingly beautiful debutante, Florence, played with an effective blend of sadness and comedy by Saxon Trainor; the war-shocked Jeffrey, performed with quiet intensity by James Kelton; and Irene Gilbert as the near-catatonic artist Mrs. Paddy, who has a very minimalist attitude towards her work. As Ethel's stepchildren, Jeffrey David Pomerantz and Raleigh Scovel don't seem quite to believe the roles they are playing, especially Scovel, who is always a half a beat late in his line readings. Sandra Tucker, however, is quite effective as their sister, the spoiled aging debutante Lily Belle, who actually achieves a state of near-nausea at the possibility of becoming poor. The set design of Giatheatrics is functional but not very inspiring. The lighting of Jason Mullen, though, provides an excellent environment for the on-stage action. Julio Martinez The Curious Savage

The Curious Savage ( Stella Adler Theatre; 99 seats; $ 20 top) Judy Arnold Prods. in association with the Stella Adler Theatre presents “The Curious Savage ,” a play in two acts by John Patrick, directed by Robert Mandan. Set design, Giatheatrics; lighting design, Jason Mullen; sound design, Schildkraut/Stenshoel. Opened and reviewed Nov. 22, 1996; runs until Dec. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 10 min. Cast: Patricia Fraser (Ethel), Jeffrey David Pomerantz (Titus), Raleigh Scovel (Samuel), Sandra Tucker (Lily Belle), Sarah Lilly (Miss Wilhelmina), Timothy Oman (Dr. Emmett), Saxon Trainor (Florence), Jack Rodgers (Hannibal), Marjorie Bowman (Fairy May), James Kelton (Jeffrey), Irene Gilbert (Mrs. Paddy). John Patrick’s quaint but lightweight 1950s comedy is in the tradition of such works as “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Harvey,” wherein the eccentric folk turn out wiser and more humane than the supposed sane-and-normal people around them. Director Robert Mandan has gathered a competent cast, but offers no insight to raise this museum piece from the community theater environs in which it belongs. Patrick’s plot is tidy and oh so predictable, blithely ignoring a few flaws in logic. The action centers on elderly widow Ethel Savage (Patricia Fraser), whose three grown stepchildren have committed her to a country club-like sanitarium. The trio is desperately trying to wrest control of the $ 10 million family fortune from Ethel. It is never explained how they manage to get her committed when they have no legal control over her. Their stepmother, in turn, has exhibited her mental instability by becoming (at her late age) an actress and by wanting to use the family’s millions to set up a foundation to subsidize individuals who want to fulfill their dreams, no matter how foolish they may seem to others. Naturally, Ethel discovers the sanitarium is inhabited by a lot of gentle crazy folk who immediately surround her with the love and understanding she never received from her own kin. Even the sanitarium staff, Miss Wilhelmina (Sarah Lilly) and Dr. Emmett (Timothy Oman), are warm and fuzzy. Mandan’s straightforward staging fails to highlight the potential comedic moments; the actors, however, mange to bail him out, especially the five sanitarium “crazies.” Patricia Fraser offers a gentle but keenly observant presence as Ethel, expertly serving as a low-keyed catalyst to the zaniness of the inmates and histrionics of her family members. Operating on that same level is Sarah Lilly’s Miss Wilhelmina, who exudes an aura of intense interest in the actions of the others while always remaining subdued and distant. Timothy Oman’s Dr. Emmett is quietly effective in his role as a philosophical referee to everyone’s demands. The true stars of the show are sanitarium’s residents: the hilarious Marjorie Bowman as the hyperactive, love-starved Fairy Mae, who adores making up stories and lifting her skirt; the nerd-to-the-hilt performance of Jack Rodgers as the accountant, Hannibal, who imagines himself to be an expert violinist even though he can’t play a note; the achingly beautiful debutante, Florence, played with an effective blend of sadness and comedy by Saxon Trainor; the war-shocked Jeffrey, performed with quiet intensity by James Kelton; and Irene Gilbert as the near-catatonic artist Mrs. Paddy, who has a very minimalist attitude towards her work. As Ethel’s stepchildren, Jeffrey David Pomerantz and Raleigh Scovel don’t seem quite to believe the roles they are playing, especially Scovel, who is always a half a beat late in his line readings. Sandra Tucker, however, is quite effective as their sister, the spoiled aging debutante Lily Belle, who actually achieves a state of near-nausea at the possibility of becoming poor. The set design of Giatheatrics is functional but not very inspiring. The lighting of Jason Mullen, though, provides an excellent environment for the on-stage action. Julio Martinez The Curious Savage

The Curious Savage

Stella Adler Theatre; 99 seats; $20 top; Opened and reviewed Nov. 22, 1996

Production

Judy Arnold Prods. in association with the Stella Adler Theatre presents "The Curious Savage," a play in two acts by John Patrick, directed by Robert Mandan.

Cast

Cast: Patricia Fraser (Ethel), Jeffrey David Pomerantz (Titus), Raleigh Scovel (Samuel), Sandra Tucker (Lily Belle), Sarah Lilly (Miss Wilhelmina), Timothy Oman (Dr. Emmett), Saxon Trainor (Florence), Jack Rodgers (Hannibal), Marjorie Bowman (Fairy May), James Kelton (Jeffrey), Irene Gilbert (Mrs. Paddy).
Set design, Giatheatrics; lighting design, Jason Mullen; sound design, Schildkraut/Stenshoel. Opened and reviewed Nov. 22, 1996; runs until Dec. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 10 min.
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