SCP’s ‘Stage Door’ offers stylish retro sights, sounds

Schenectady Civic Players’ current offering, “Stage Door” by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman, gets

Schenectady Civic Players’ current offering, “Stage Door” by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman, gets an “E” for effort. It is an earnest production. With a cast of 25, a parade of gorgeous 1930’s women’s costumes (Joseph Fava) and a detailed set (Don Mealy and Joseph Fava), it is all about attitude. The director (Fava) has concentrated his efforts on creating ambience if not substance.

‘Stage Door’

WHERE: Schenectady Civic Players, 12 South Church St., Schenectady

WHEN: Through Feb. 3

HOW MUCH: $15-$13

MORE INFO: 382-2081

The story centers on the Footlight Club in New York City, a hotel for aspiring Broadway actresses (there are 15 of them) with varying degrees of talent. While hoping for their big break, they work as bit players, radio announcers and extras. The lure of Hollywood and the burgeoning motion picture industry is ever-present. It offers itself in the person of David Kingsley (John Massaroni), who comes into town and offers screen tests to two of the girls.

One of them, Jean Maitland (Christine M. Loffredo), succumbs to the promised riches of the silver screen. The other, Terry Randall (Jennifer VanIderstyne) refuses to give up her dreams of pithy parts and eventual Broadway success. Jean, though she has little acting ability, becomes a glittering movie star while Terry, with all her gifts, struggles on, pounding the pavement and working in the blouse department at Macy’s.

Humor and Tenderness

The hotel is run by Mrs. Orcutt (Rita Russell). Russell gives a smashingly comic performance as a lady who once had dreams herself and, apparently, still does. She greets Kingsley at the hotel in true movie star fashion, with an over-the-top costume, slinky poses and a fan. Pat Hoffman as Judith Canfield is the wiseacre of the group. She tosses off her one-liners with seasoned abandon and creates the best laughs in the show.

Older and wiser than the girls, however, and understanding rejection as they cannot, Russell and Hoffman have some beautifully tender moments as well. Jason J. Biszick as Keith Burgess transforms himself neatly from an idealistic playwright, living in one room and writing for “the masses,” into an ambitious Hollywood hack. Felicia Copeland plays Mattie, the hotel maid. She is aware of the girls’ struggles, supports their efforts, yet she is somehow above them. Bill Hickman has a nice turn as Terry’s father, a country doctor who is resigned to his dwindling practice due to younger doctors and the “miracles” of modern medicine.

Jeffrey Scott (assistant director/sound design and execution) has created a period and most enjoyable sound plot with toe-tapping jazz and blues numbers during scene changes. His inspired choices at particular junctures (which I will not give away) are intelligent and appropriate. Lighting by Nick Webb delicately immerses the audience in the moods of the play and textures the set beautifully.

Production values surrounding this show are impeccable. Attention might have been paid, however, to imbuing the actors with individuality and specific intentions.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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