Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre will play “Other People’s Money: The Ultimate Seduction” by Jerry Sterner at their new, temporary home Kehillah Community Synagogue at 1300 Grand Ave., which is practically on the border of Piedmont and Oakland. The production opens Saturday, March 8 and will run through April 12, with a preview on March 6. Performances are early: 7 pm on Thursdays, 7:30 on Fridays & Saturdays, and 5 pm Sundays.
“Other People’s Money” is about corporate raiders and what seems to be the root of our financial problems,” said P.O.R.T. Producer John McMullen. “It won Best Off-Broadway Play for 1989, but it’s as relevant today. Coincidentally, TIME magazine featured Carl Icahn, the iconic corporate raider, on its cover in mid-December of last year. By the way, when it first performed in New York, Icahn attended and was quoted in his reaction to the play as saying, ‘Some of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard…many I find myself repeating.”
“It’s a sexy play—it would have to be with a subtitle of ‘The Ultimate Seduction,’ and it deals with lust and gluttony as well as greed,” Director McMullen added.
“There was a regrettable attempt to make this serious yet funny play into a Hollywood romance starring Danny DeVito. The play is the real thing, and nothing like the cinematic version which dumbed down the very important argument that shows both sides of the question and leaves the audience debating who is justified,” said McMullen, who also directs the play.
“Other People’s Money” won critical acclaim as well as the Obie Best Play. Shattered Globe Theater in Chicago just produced it, attesting to its being topical. John Simon, the aggressive, super-critic of New York magazine, reviewed it as “Funny, serious, suspenseful, involving, disturbing, and above all, expertly crafted...Epic grandeur and intimate titillation combined. It is the most stimulating kind of entertainment." New York Times reviewer Mel Gussow wrote that it, “…has a heart of iron which beats about the cannibalistic nature of big business.”
The cast is comprised of John Hale who plays Garfield, the obese, lecherous, gluttonous, avaricious, charming, and funny New Yorker who comes to buy, chop and sell the wire and cable mill that supports a small community which is owned by Jorgenson, played by Keith Jefferds. Karly Shea plays Kate, a sexy lawyer who battles Garfield at the behest of her mother, Jorgenson’s lover, played by Susannah Wood. Brett Mermer plays the company manager Cole, who is caught between the adversaries, and is concerned for his own future. Understudy for Bea: Elizabeth Jane Dunne. All actors, except the new addition of Jefferds, were featured in the group’s inaugural production of “The Dining Room” at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in November and early December when the group was named Piedmont Avenue Repertory Theatre; it changed its named to be more inclusive and because there was no venue to perform on Piedmont Ave.
The play derives its title from Louis Brandeis’ famous series of articles in Harper’s Weekly in 1914—two years before he became a Supreme Court Justice—on how the large banking houses were colluding with businessmen to create trusts in America's major industries. “The articles were collected in book form and published under the title ‘Other People's Money--and How the Bankers Use It’” (quoted from Louis Brandeis School of Law).
Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre (P.O.R.T.) or Piedmont Oakland Rep for short is a new professional theatre group serving both communities. “There seems to be no traditional theatre for grown-ups in this metropolis. We have the impressive avant-garde group Ragged Wing who just moved downtown, and many children’s theatres, but we hope to bring text-based, enjoyable, thoughtful, easily accessible theatre to our communities,” said McMullen.
“We changed our name lately to P.O.R.T.—since we might need to be portable for a while, though Kehillah has been very generous in opening its doors to us. Oakland is a big port city, and we hope that, like the aperitif, P.O.R.T. we will be a sweet and bracing after-dinner enjoyment…ok, I’ll stop,” McMullen joked. “But you can just refer to us as Piedmont Oakland Rep.”
Tickets are $25 ($19 for Preview March 6) and available through their website www.PiedmontOaklandRep.ORG
or Brown Paper Tickets 800-838-3006.