After so many years of excellent performances, it’s not surprising that when word goes out that Don Wallace has a new idea for the residents of ‘Puritan Cove’ and Naomi Wittenberg has once again donned her producers cap, excitement starts to build.
For 28 years residents of Plymouth Harbor have written, directed and produced original plays and these efforts are also supported by the Plymouth Harbor Residents Fund. Staff are involved as well, but this is clearly one of the most creative and all-compassing group efforts led by residents. It’s for fun, camaraderie, and probably one of the most entertaining ways to sharpen their wits and skills.
The excitement started several months ago. It was December, in fact, when residents interested in trodding the boards read for roles in Don’s new play. Peggy Wallace, Don’s wife, works with him as the stage director, lead prop mistress, lyricist, and vocalist. Their son, Bruce, provided music, sound and media. Another son, Gordon, was responsible for filming the video sequences which were important for the story line.
This time Don’s original story was about “The Stash on the Seventeenth Floor” and the performances took place on February 25 and 26 in Pilgrim Hall to the usual packed audience.
If you have been lucky enough to have enjoyed any of the Players’ performances in recent years, then you appreciate the quick wit and pace of the plays which owe much to the playwright. Follow the natural dialogue that is also slyly humorous without going overboard, and you see the work of an Emmy-nominated writer responsible for soap operas like “The Edge of Night,” “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.”
This year’s “Stash” not only brought all that we have come to expect, but included video in the form of messages from Cassie Crowder’s granddaughter, Cassandra, who is working on her anthropology dissertation in Peru. Heather Shaw played the doting Cassie who agrees to support her granddaughter by gathering a focus group of her friends to test an old Incan herbal medicine for their arthritis. We’re tipped off when “in the hemp family” is heard in the first video message, featuring Don and Peggy’s grand-daughter-in-law, Amanda Wallace.
And so the story goes as some residents of Puritan Cove, including Cassie’s friends Chiquita (Francie Jones), Selma (Ann Williams), and even the doubting Dr. Jules Hartley (Al Balaban) consume the special cookies Cassie bakes using the herb “kinocopa” sent to her direct from the Andes by her Cassandra.
Al Balaban — or rather Dr. Hartley — was the trouble-maker warning CEO Barry Dobson (played by Harry, of course) of the “illicit drug dealing.” Lawyers were involved, with Bobby Broderick’s clear-thinking Frank Dillon getting the best of the politically ambitious State Attorney General Sam Sparger, given a heightened touch by the tall Paul Groen.
A clever use of the simple tune Frere Jacques with alternative lyrics unified the many scenes and even spiced up the drug inferences. What do you think of when you hear those bent sitar notes introduced to western ears during the drug-fueled years of the Beatles recordings? Another favorite reference came with every “Walk this way” followed by the awkward dragging leg gait we all first saw in the Mel Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein.
Every character, and therefore actor, was given something funny or juicy to play with and we all had fun. Kudos to so many, such as Carol Lawrence, Macky Groen and Bill Brackett, the only actors not yet mentioned.
Behind the scenes were George Doty on lights, Phil Starr with his videography skills, Sandra Forbes and George Salley with props, Nancy Gross and Sandra Forbes as prompters, Scott Pike providing program art, and finally Hugh Kelly, Jeanne MacArthur and Fran Vancil handling stage and curtains. Thanks to other staff deeply involved in the production, Karen Smith and Maryanne Shorin.