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Posted September 3, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Winchester production fitting in today's troubled economy
By Josette Keelor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- It begins with greed and quickly turns toward seduction, but the latest play at Winchester Little Theatre, "Other People's Money," will end with an entertained audience. How the audience members feel about the plot, though, will be entirely up to them, says director Paul Bailey.
The plot centers around takeover artist Larry Garfinkle, who has set his sights on New England Wire and Cable, owned by Andrew Jorgenson. In an attempt to save the company from being bought and sold off in pieces, as well as to save the jobs of all of his employees, Jorgenson enlists the aid of his assistant's daughter, Kate, a bigwig New York lawyer who rivals Garfinkle's passion for money and power.
The show takes place in the 1980s, but Bailey believes those who come to see it will be able to relate to the story line, which very much parallels the current economic climate.
"It's the same concept," Bailey says.
The story concerns business owners catering to the whims of stockholders and the effects on employees who depend on the success of the company. The play leaves the audience with a question that business owners must consider: Is business just about making money, or are people and the state of the economy important, too?
Despite the financially centered overtone of the show, the plot includes a lot of humor.
"It's not black humor, but there's humor here," Bailey says.
"The point is this is a greedy [man] who's a male chauvinist," Bailey says of Garfinkle. "There's nothing appealing about him."
To make the character as disgusting -- and menacing -- as possible, Andy Kiser, who plays Garfinkle, dresses to look much larger than any of the other cast members.
"He eats doughnuts and Big Macs all day and he uses bad language," Kiser says, later adding, "He's supposed to be slimy."
Still, Garfinkle infuses the play with most of its humor, Kiser says. "He's a lot of the comic relief," Kiser says. "He's blunt, he doesn't B.S., he doesn't sugarcoat things."
When Kate enters the picture, she and Garfinkle battle it out, sparring to see which one will gain the upper hand in their word match.
"She's very independent, she's stubborn, she doesn't listen very well," Maria Santucci says of her character.
"She's not a very good person, she's out for herself, she's strong in that way."
The problem, for Kate -- and ultimately for Jorgenson and his company -- is that Garfinkle is not actually doing anything illegal. Kate can argue all she wants with him, but in the end it is simply a matter of morals -- and money.
"If they see him as the bad guy, that's OK, but at the same time, he does what he does because to him it's legal and it's how the game is played. There is no pretense with him. What's Garfinkle is Garfinkle," Kiser says. "He's motivated by money, but he's more motivated by the game itself ... the challenge."
"It takes place in Wall Street and Rhode Island," Bailey says, pointing out the opposing sets that take up the whole of WLT's stage. The setup of the theater, with its intimacy between the seats and the stage itself, presents an interesting view for people attending any one of the community theater group's productions. Perhaps because of the suitability of the upcoming show's theme to the state of America's current financial situation, the members of the audience might feel more than ever that they are a part of the story.
Whether they side with Garfinkle, who truly believes himself to be the savior of a failing company, or with Jorgenson, who fights for the welfare of his employees as well as his own livelihood, they will surely feel passionately drawn toward one or the other.
Perhaps what makes the story most meaningful is that it is told from the viewpoint of one of Jorgenson's employees, William Coles, manager of the company. Coles, played by Pat Markland, is the character who has everything to lose if Jorgenson decides to sell.
"[This is] the story of what happened, from his perspective," Markland says. As manager, Coles is the one who stands to take over if Jorgenson retires.
"That's his dream to become chairman of a company. [He is] probably the one character that most people would relate to," Markland says.
"This is a play about people and where they came from and why they are what they are," Bailey says. He cautions those who have seen the 1991 Hollywood movie starring Danny DeVito not to assume they know the whole plot.
"[This version is] great because it's not sanitized," he says. "I think it's great because it'll be a surprise ending."
"It's a mystery, 'cause who's gonna win and how? It's a romance, 'cause there's a guy and a girl," he says. "There's absolutely something for everybody."
Jerry Sterner's "Other People's Money" begins at Winchester Little Theatre at 315 W. Boscawen St. on Friday and runs through Sept. 19. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information, call the box office Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. at 662-3331, or visit the Web at www.wltonline.org.
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