Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I enjoyed the staged reading of this new play several weeks ago at the 45th Street Theater. It’s a comic romp by playwright John Martin (in photo) into the off-stage world of show business, with the crazy schemers and dreamers who craft it.

Sam Balaban (Charles Karel) is a theatrical producer without a cultural or artistic cell in his body. Wendell Taulkingham (Ben Killberg), his assistant, is a playwright who wants his boss to back his latest play, Young Shakespeare, but figures he hasn’t got a chance after his last artsy work bombed at “a theatre so far off Broadway only Lewis and Clark could find it.” Believing the work is good and that his boss would like it if it were submitted by another writer, he hires an actor, Lancaster Cohen (Mike Roche) to pose as the author.

Into the mix come Paul Bailey Starr (Jim Murphy), the billionaire evangelical owner of the Faith-Based Shopping Network who wants to “help purify America’s life and language through dramatic art” by backing a Broadway show, his daughter, Jenny June Starr (Stephanie Stone) and Claudia Larkspur (Chris Kelley), a late middle-aged actress who declares she wants to advance gender equality by playing the Bard.

The cast, under the direction of Nat Habib, did a great job bringing the play to life. Martin told me before the show that he has been developing it for three years and hopes now to have it produced in regional theatres before coming back to New York for an Off-Broadway run. I wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing the full production when it returns.

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