Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little—Edna Ferber
The dichotomy of Like Money in the Bank lies in the fact that though it is well written by Jerry Polner, skillfully directed by Shana Solomon and performed by a talented group of actors, it is too much of a good thing. It is about the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, the plight of immigrant workers, the American Progressive Movement, the United Garment Workers, corruption within the banks, union conflicts, the suffragists, strikes, temperance, and even the advent of the radio.
While it is true that these were, indeed, all things which were occurring during the same era of our country’s history does not lessen the danger of the audience feeling it is being prepped for a mid-term exam.
Fortunately, despite this, the show fulfills its designated category of romantic comedy. Rachel Mewbron as Louisa and Michael Zlabinger as Sully play the requisite lovers with great charm. The remainder of the cast– Jack Utrata, Sarah Sirota, Annalisa Loeffler and Richard Vernon – play multiple characters with aplomb.
The pre-show music is a delight. Sound Designer Harrison Adams has put together music that seems to be coming out of a gramophone and sung in the style of the period. Joseph Blaha’s costumes are consistently well researched and appropriate.
Scene changes are announced with intertitles—a fixture of the silent films. In this case cards carried across the stage, opening with “A Small Bank Out West, 1907” and including “Chicago Steam Boiler Company,” “A Makeshift Union Hall” and “Smith’s Bar.”
Special mention to Andrew Sellon for his role of Lockett (also Socialist and Sidney); his innate talent for comedy is a joy to behold, not only in his characters but as he carries title cards across the stage.
There is so much good to be said for the production of Like Money in the Bank that one can only wish it hadn’t taken on quite so much history.
At Theatre Row Studio Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street
Concluding a limited run through April 22, 2016
Photos by Jody Christopherson