Playcrafters GREASEPAINT Roars!

by Walter Bender

The Playcrafters of Skippack’s latest offering is THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT, THE SMELL OF THE CROWD by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. This, the second (and lesser known) offering by Newley, tells the story of Sir and Cocky, two gentlemen representing the “haves” and the “have-nots” who play a game (the game of Life?) Every time Cocky appears to be winning, Sir changes the rules, sometimes to confuse Cocky, sometimes to torment him. Their struggles and their eventual triumphs are the story of this Tony-nominated musical from the ’60s.

(L. to R.) Allison Deratzian, Dave Swartz, Steve Pollack, Curtis Cockenberg in a scene from Playcrafters of Skippack's version of ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT.

Director Arnie Finkel has done a wonderful job of bringing this show to life. The set is very effective, the music delightful, and there are some “updates” of dated material that were a lot of fun. The cast had beautiful voices and blended beautifully together and with the background score. The choreography was energetic and fun to watch.

The main characters, played with great energy by David Swartz (Sir) and Steve Pollack (Cocky) were terrific. Mr. Pollack in particular has a wonderful voice and can sell a song beautifully. Swartz’ Sir was all pomposity and bluster, Pollack’s Cocky subservient and understated (at first.) As the show progresses, each character shows a complexity that was very effective. A. Deratzian as the Kid was very enjoyable to watch, the prototypical brat who grows through the production. The Urchins (Ashley Fisher-Tannenbaum, Elizabeth Gallagher, Briana Krewson, Jesse O’Brien, Suzanne Rainear and Florence Wydra-Gat) each had distinctive personalities and added a lot to the production. Alicia Landis, Jerry McGrier and Mark Prince fill out this very talented cast.

I need to mention the overture of this show. Most of the time, the overture is done in silence, with the audience either waiting for it to be over or chatting until it is finished. Mr. Finkel has a very fun pre-show as the overture plays, and it set the tone for this delightful production perfectly.

I thought at times the Urchins were a bit out of control, pulling focus from Sir and Cocky by their movements, and I would have liked to see the moving in and out of the game play to be a bit more auspicious. But overall this was a very enjoyable performance of a show that isn’t done much. Kudos to Mr. Finkel and to Playcrafters for bringing this hidden gem to their audience.

by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse
Directed by Arnie Finkel
June 3 – 19, 2010
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road (Off Rt. 73)
Skippack, PA

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