Lost Note Theater Company is obviously a bit a misnomer. It doesn’t lose anything but helps us find what delights. And isn’t it about time someone re-discovered “I Can Get It For You Wholesale”! But were I king, this play would be in full production mode tomorrow.
From the first clever lyrics in the opening song, “I’m Not a Well Man” sung with perfect comedic timing by Jeffrey Gitelle (playing Mr Pulvermacher) and Erin Daly (playing Miss Marmelstein) we know we are in for a treat. Then and throughout, we feel as if there was the briefest of hiccups between the golden age of Broadway in its Vaudevillian origins and the Yiddish theater scene in NY that shaped Vaudeville in turn.
For those who speak a tad of Yiddish, this is the story of a goniff (in Yiddish, a thief or dishonest person or scoundrel ) who is forced into having a conscience in the context of what the play calls the Garment Trade (better known as the shmata biz–rag trade- to those in it at the time). There is nothing particularly subtle or poignant about the story line. The music is fine too. But it’s the clever lyrics that will have you smiling ear-to-ear throughout.
Does anyone have Barbra Streisand’s number? Give her a call. Perhaps for nostalgia sake she will be the one to make sure Lost Note Theater’s attempt to revive this piece is not forsaken. Historically, this is THE musical that launched Barbra Streisand to stardom and at the age of 19 a nomination for best actress in a musical Tony Award. Reportedly, the play was rewritten to accommodate her outsized talents.
Perhaps a bit more rewriting of the second act would have been in order as it does fizzle at the end. This may explain why it closed after only 300 performances on Broadway. That said, and probably helped a great deal by the highly talented cast that Lost Note Theater Company assembled for this staged reading, it will be time well-spent to get this show shown to a wider audience today.
Even the weaknesses of the cast help underline its strength. Barbara Berndt plays Mrs. Bogen aka Momma with nuance and a perfect accent. When she can’t hit the high notes we are left treasuring the lyrics of her songs all the more.
Erin Daly as Miss Marmelstein has the lung power of Ethel Merman, but with much greater sweet appeal.
Keep your eyes on the entire cast, because if they were so successful taking a staged reading to an unexpectedly joyful afternoon gosh knows what each and all will do with full productions and ample rehearsals.
The cast includes:
-Barbara Berndt (Mrs. Bogen)
-Mary Jo Bolduc (Blance Bushkin)
-Ashly Dalene (Martha Mills)
-Erin Daly (Miss Marmelstein)
-Jeffrey Gitelle (Mr Pulvermacher)
-Steven Greist (Teddy Asch)
-Paul G. Miller (Harry Bogen)
-Annie Passanisi (Ruthie Rivkin)
-Brian Rooney (Meyer Bushkin)
Yes! They all deserve an individual shout out. Its these kinds of talents that make Chicago stages sizzle even when its just a staged reading sans props, lights or any fixins.
Lost Note Theatre Company
April 27, April 30 and May 1, 2013 7 PM Curtain
Strawdog Theatre Company’s Hugen Hall, 2nd Floor
3829 N. Broadway, Chicago
Tickets at brownpapertickets.com