As you know from reading my reviews and articles, I am always “for” the new theater companies and hope against all hope that they bring us quality and memorable theatrical experiences. One of these new companies, MadKap Productions, now in its third season has chosen to present, what I might call an unfinished play- “Mr. Shaw Goes To Hollywood”, written by Marlk Saltzman ( who previous credits include one of their previous productions, ” Clutter”- The True Story Of The Collyer Brothers who never threw anything out.
This play celebrates George Bernard Shaw ( deftly portrayed by Bill Chamberlain) and his wife Charlotte ( Anita Kallen) as they come to Hollywood as a way of finding more dollars to go along with his fame. Almost in the same vein as the recent motion picture, “Saving Mr. Banks”, we get a glimpse into how the movie people try to get the rights to “Pygmalion” so they can make a film of the play. In this story we meet the head of MGM Studio, Louis B. Mayer ( played by Michael D. Graham) and William Randolph Hearst (Tom Cassidy). There was a meeting with these men in attendance along with notable actors Clark Gable ( played in this production by Rob Ibanez, who also plays another role that could be missing from the script and not hinder the action), and the glorious Marion Davies ( Cat Hermes, who appears in her undergarments for almost half the play).
Directed by John Nasca on a set designed by Robert E. Estrin that has more of a walled in appearance leaving the actual play areas sparce, we are asked to see this as the glitz of Hollywood, but with a new and young theater company, expenses and costs are small and therefore the glitz of Hollywood, becomes almost a bare stage with a number of chairs and some projections on the back walls.
I understand the limitations of a new company but do feel that when deciding on what shows to bring to their public, they should look at “can we produce this show properly?”. If you cannot, then isn’t it better to find a show that can be put on in your small stage area and wait until more revenue is in the budget- then do the “big show”! The story is based on reality and perhaps it will someday have “legs” and be brought to an audience as a finished production. Yes, it is enjoyable enough and there are some solid characters. Of note , young Jonathan Helvey as Oscar and others. His Charlie Chaplin is adorable, but not really needed.The other character in the show, John Barrymore is handled by David Belew.
This is a two hour plus production with lots of scenes in two acts- a” little shave and a haircut” might really make this a more entertaining show allowing us to get a better understanding of what George Bernard Shaw really wanted and what the Hollywood Moguls were seeking as well. There are some laughs and some interesting looks at celebreties from the “Golden Age”.
“Mr. Shaw Goes To Hollywood” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through February 16th with performances as follows:
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $20 (students and seniors) to $35 and are General Admission. This is the upstairs “studio” and is smaller but is comfortable.
To order tickets call the box office at 773-404-7336 or online www.greenhousetheater.org
To learn more about MadKap and what is coming up, visit www.MadKapProductions.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Mr.Shaw Goes To Hollywood”.