Chicago Theatre Review
Taking a chance on Other People’s Money
Other People’s Money – Shattered Globe
Jerry Sterner’s Other People’s Money opened in New York 24 years ago in 1989. The premise of the pay focuses around buying and selling businesses at the corporate level. To put it simply, a large corporation will target a smaller failing business that has stock going for pennies to the dollar. The corporation will buy that stock, driving the price of the shares up. Once the price of the shares for the smaller business are up, and the corporation holds the majority of the shares, the corporation will sell the failing business for a greater profit. In more recent years, we have seen this business equation with companies such as Yahoo!, Microsoft and Starbucks.
Sterner writes about Larry the Liquidator, a takeover artist, trying to take control of New England Wire and Cable (NEWC), a failing Rhode Island company. While Andrew Jorgenson, the owner of NEWC, is trying to keep control of the company and save the jobs of over one thousand employees.
I cannot say that I would see this show a second time necessarily. However if I did see Other People’s Money again, it would be two reason and two reasons only. The first would be for the set design by Andrew Hildner. The theater is set in a proscenium setting. The stage is split, with one side being depicted as a skyscraper on Wall Street. With enormous windows that scaling from floor to ceiling, a marbled floor, expensive leather chairs, even equipped with a fast-talking, loud mouth, ruthless businessman named Lawrence Garfinkle, played by the commanding presence of Ben Werling. As you travel stage left, you suddenly appear in a small, beaten down office in Rhode Island; the home and foundation to a simple hardworking business owner, Andrew Jorgenson (Doug McDade).
While, yes the design of the set is creative, it is more importantly, smart. Smart because it allowed director Dennis Zacek to transition easily from scene to scene. Smart because the design utilized the space, I think, while creating something visually interesting to look at.
The only other reason why I would see Other People’s Money again would be because of seasoned actors, Werling and McDade. McDade provided much complexity to the role of Andrew Jorgenson. Layer after layer of honesty, sincerity, tenderness and care that truly characterizes the hardworking middle class. I was almost tempted to run up and give McDade a hug after curtain call. With Werling, I was literally hanging onto every word he was saying. Werling’s physical and vocal presence will keep you engaged through all 2 hours of the performance. Werling’s character reminded me slightly of Rodney Dangerfield in the 1980’s film Back To School, but without the bulging bug eyes. The reference to Rodney Dangerfield is meant as a compliment.
With the exception of Linda Reiter, the rest of the cast falls short, for otherwise a production of great quality.
Review by Dan Haymes
Other People’s Money runs Thursday September 12th through Sunday October 19th
Playing at Theater Wit located at 1229 w Belmont, in Chicago
Playwright: Jerry Sterner
Director: Dennis Zacek