Grim tale of ‘Other People’s Money’ hits hard
Robert Frankel (left) and Edward Kuffert star in Citadel Theatre’s “Other People’s Money.”
‘Other People’s Money’
Company, 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sundays; Wednesday matinees at 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and 17; through Oct. 28
Tickets: $35-$37.50, with discounts available for seniors and students
“Other People’s Money,” Jerry Sterner’s play about a greedy speculator capitalizing on a business weakened by the soft economy, is just as relevant and affecting as when he wrote it in 1987.
Maybe more so.
Its premise rings painfully true in Citadel Theatre’s biting production of this well-crafted dark comedy directed by Robert Estrin.
The story opens with Lawrence Garfinkle, a well-known Manhattan corporate raider, arriving at the doorstep of Rhode Island-based New England Wire & Cable to meet with its management. The company’s fortunes have shifted; its primary wire and cable business has faltered, while profitable subsidiaries have offset the damage.
Garfinkle, (played with a squirm-inducing smarm by Glencoe’s Ed Kuffert), who is known as “Larry the Liquidator” on Wall Street, has determined that the company’s stock is undervalued. He smells potential profit and begins accumulating shares.
The chairman, Andrew Jorgenson (Pat Murphy), who has devoted most of his working career to the company and is two years shy of retirement, refuses to become alarmed. He sticks with the wisdom passed on by his father: “Look after the nickels and dimes and the dollars will take
care of themselves.”
Will Coles (Robert Frankel), the president, is worried and suggests preventive actions, but Jorgenson won’t listen. Advice from administrative assistant Bea Sullivan’s high-powered lawyer daughter Kate also is rebuffed.
With the company in play, Coles sees his hopes of succeeding as chairman vanish and starts pushing for adoption of a “golden parachute” that would give him financial security if Garfinkle manages to dismantle the business.
Murphy delivers an impassioned performance as Jorgenson, a man struggling to save his beleaguered business. He gets solid support from Nancy Sellers as Bea, his loving and loyal aide, and Denice Mahler, as the lawyer Kate.
Frankel, meanwhile, paints a good picture of a suddenly vulnerable top executive grasping for a lifeline.
Yet in a cast filled with strong performers, Kuffert stands out for his portrayal of the soulless, money-grubbing corporate raider everyone loves to hate.
Daniel Milsk’s split set makes it easy to switch attention from anxious action in the tatty offices of New England Wire & Cable to the sterile, computerized site from which Garfinkle operates.
That’s a great thing, because audiences won’t want to miss a second of this riveting play.~.
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