The stock market crash and a miserly shop owner would sound like unlikely elements of a musical comedy, but hey, didn't Annie take place during the Depression? And isn't A Christmas Carol packing them in at Madison Square Garden?
Well, a brand new musical is using similar elements. It's The Skinflint, with book and lyrics by Barbara Field and Hiram Titus, a modern adaptation of Moliere's The Miser. This version tells of Harry K. Pomander, a stingy pawn shop owner in Coney Island. He's squirreled away his money, so the Depression is no problem, but he still needs to marry off his children to legitimate prospects. Not only that, he has eyes on the same young girl his son plans to wed.
Sponsored by American Express, The Skinflint has already been workshopped three times by Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep), which is now mounting the musical, Dec. 3-Jan. 2, 1998. Susan Gregg directs, with Williamichael Badolato choreographing and Jeffrey Buchsbaum serving as musical director.
Field and Titus have collaborated for more than 20 years, including a Guthrie Theatre (MN) Great Expectations and the 1980 chamber opera, Rosina. Field was initially commissioned to write a non musical Skinflint by the Iowa State Theatre Department, at which point The Rep, alongside The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, commissioned a musical version. Plays by Field include Off The Ice, Neutral Countries and Coming Of Age. Titus has scored more than 30 productions at MN's Children's Theatre Company.
Director Gregg has worked at Actors Theatre Of Louisville, FL's Asolo Company and Albany's Capital Rep. Choreographer Badolato's work on The Most Happy Fella at the Rep in 1996 will soon be restaged at the Cleveland Great Lakes Festival. Orchestrator Larry Hochman has worked on both Late Nite Comic and Copacabana. Starring in The Skinflint are Paul Boesing (as Harry), Adinah Alexander, Nancy Anderson, Christopher Bloch, John Cudia, Ann Harada, David B. Heuvelman, Yvette Lawrence, Max Perlman and Don Richard.
Designing the show are John Ezell (set), James Scott (costumes) and Philip Monat (lighting).
For tickets ($19) and information on The Skinflint at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Edgar Road in St. Louis, call (314) 968-4925.
-- By David Lefkowitz