SOMETHING INTANGIBLE: Bruce Graham’s Disney Backstory Comes to Life at Langhorne Players

by Jean and Bill Brenner
Timothy Kirk in a scene from SOMETHING INTANGIBLE at Langhorne Players. (Photo credit: Eileen Simmons)

Timothy Kirk in a scene from SOMETHING INTANGIBLE at Langhorne Players. (Photo credit: Eileen Simmons)

Once again, Langhorne Players in Tyler Park is presenting an interesting and somewhat unusual play, SOMETHING INTANGIBLE.

Set in the early 1940’s, the two-act comedy is the story of two brothers with very different personalities who own a Hollywood movie studio.

One brother, Tony Wiston, is a creative genius. His cartoon character, “Petey Pup,” appears in the same green pants with large buttons in every short film and has captured the imagination of worldwide movie-watchers who need escape from the problems of world war.

Dale Wiston is the practical brother.  The CFO of the Wiston Movie Studio, he raises money while trying unsuccessfully to control his brother’s spending.

As the play unfolds, Tony is looking for an expensive new venture – something he wants to do in a movie, but he cannot quite imagine or verbalize his thoughts.  It is “something intangible,” he says.

But, during a concert he is attending, Wiston becomes enamored with the music, seeing various colors associating with the notes of the music – vivid colors – dancing in his head to the music. He begins to imagine a film showing colors moving rhythmically to the music.

Tony becomes obsessed with producing this movie, this time without Petey Pup. But backers will not give his brother and him the necessary money unless Petey Pup actually appears in this movie.  Petey Pup sells tickets. He is the draw for the studio.

Money talks, and finally, the film, “Grandioso,” is completed…. with Petey Pup.

Dale Wiston is the leading character in this play. He is the one who manipulates his brother when necessary, who raises the money, who deals (off stage) with his wife and learning-disabled child. He is the one who visits a psychiatrist to whom he bares his soul (and thus helps along the exposition of the show).

SOMETHING INTANGIBLE, while fictional, is based loosely on Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, and offers some thoughts about the creative processes behind the making of the film, FANTASIA.  It is an interesting look at the conflicts between polar opposite brothers, creative impulses versus practicality and art versus commerce.

Written by Delaware County, PA, native, Bruce Graham,  SOMETHING INTANGIBLE premiered just a few years ago, in 2009, at the Arden Theatre in Old City, Philadelphia.

Langhorne Players productions seldom fail to be well cast and ably directed. This is no exception. Nigel Rogers, very successful with his adopted American accent for this role, develops a solid and sympathetic portrayal of Dale Wiston, a frustrated “bean counter” who loves his wildly outrageous brother, even as he envies Tony’s creative flair.

Tim Kirk has come up with a wild, larger-than-life Tony Wiston. However, there are many times when he is almost too manic, ricocheting around the stage, delivering lines in a booming staccato voice that is over-the-top and often difficult to listen to as he punctuates every third or fourth syllable in his delivery.

In contrast, Kimberly Hess as the intelligent psychiatrist, “Sonia,” is quiet, calm and controlled as she tries to help Dale sort out his feelings about his brother even as she wards off Dale’s frequent personal inquiries as to her personal life.

Joe Mattern, while on stage just a few times, is believable in the role of Doc Partelli the Wiston financial backer. Also acceptable is William McGuire, making his LP debut in the small supporting role of Leo Baxter.

And then, there is Sheldon Bruce Zeff portraying with gusto the larger-than-life orchestra conductor, “Gustav Von Meyerhoff.” Call me ‘Huffy’” he says. Zeff’s professional stage experience is notable, including his having played Tevye in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF six times.

Elliot Simmons recently was on stage at LP in the leading role of THE KINGFISHER.

Sheldon Bruce Zeff, William McGuire, Nigel Rogers, Timothy Kirk in a scene from SOMETHING INTANGIBLE. (Photo credit: Eileen Simmons)

Sheldon Bruce Zeff, William McGuire, Nigel Rogers, Timothy Kirk in a scene from SOMETHING INTANGIBLE. (Photo credit: Eileen Simmons)

This time Simmons is directing — his 14th time for LP.  The pace he sets for the show is good; he has cast and directs some interesting, believable characters.

As usual, Ken Junkin’s set design works well, permitting three acting areas on the limited stage of the intimate LP theatre. Lighting design by Bob Beaucheane was appropriate and important because frequent scene transitions are denoted only with lighting.

SOMETHING INTANGIBLE opened Friday, July 12 and plays primarily on weekends through July 27. Ticket prices vary. Box office phone to leave a message: 215-860-0818. Website:

The Langhorne Players theatre is located on Rt. 332 west side of the bridge connecting Holland and Newtown.

by Bruce Graham
Directed by Elliot Simmons
July 12 – 27, 2013
Langhorne Players
1440 Newtown Richboro Rd
Newtown, PA 18940


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1 comment

Ian P. Crawford July 18, 2013 - 8:38 am

It is in fact, as put on the stage, a pageant dignified by the richest and most imaginative poetry. These circumstances will, to some extent, account for what we must call the general disappointment expressed at the performance of the play on Saturday evening.

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