Showdown in the board room
Cabaret’s revival of High Noon on Wall Street a silly, rockin’ good time
It’s pretty much as one might remember it: flashy, silly, delightful. Chico Cabaret’s revival of Jerry Miller and Marcel Daguerre’s rock musical High Noon on Wall Street still manages to deliver a rockin’ good time.
Originally produced in the late-'80s at the long-gone Other Theatre, the show proved to be a huge success for that group, combining classic western good-vs.-evil schtick with Wall Street shenanigans, and all of it set to classic rock songs, most from the ‘60s. Basically, the story is this: Will Cooper is on the verge of quitting his position as CEO of Hadley Co. to start a new life “out west” with his innocent young bride, Amy Keller. And he has the blessings of the entire staff, until news hits the building that Frank Miller, the former CEO and son of the company’s co-founder, has just been released from prison (serving time for insider trading, of course) and is making it known that he intends to regain control of Hadley Co. Support for Will in his bid to prevent the takeover becomes increasingly thin as the hour of Miller’s arrival draws closer. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it should: It’s the basic plot of Gary Cooper’s final film, High Noon.
As Will Cooper, Paul Wrona is less Cooper than Stewart—Jimmy, that is. And actually Stewart’s genial “good guy” vibe suits this character better than Gary Cooper’s stoic, get-the-job-done persona would. Wrona’s big moment musically is his trade-off duet with Amy (Casey Chell) on a nice rendition of “Easy to Be Hard.” Wrona also manages to pump the energy up when needed at the end in his big dance showdown with Miller.
As the conniving Harvey, Jeremy J. Shull is great. The guy really turns on the energy whenever he’s onstage, yet he doesn’t overwhelm the other actors. Great body language, good singing, solid projection. Shull is somebody to keep an eye on.
As retired company exec John Cley Sr., Alan Lunde does well. However, for some reason the powers that be have switched songs on him here—one recalls from the original production Hugh Brashear’s rich reading of Eric Burdon’s “When I Was Young.” Here, instead, is substituted the Byrds’ arrangement of Dylan’s “My Back Pages.” A great song but somehow not as poignant as Burdon’s was, in context.
Also good: Douglas Anderson as Frank Miller (sly Neil Diamond-type delivery on the songs); Sarah C. Foster as Will’s loyal secretary Stella Street (she can belt out a tune, too); Crystal Szymanski as Helen Ramarez; and Jeff Dickenson as the “Mysterious Wino,” a peripheral character who ultimately serves as a sort of drunkus ex machina, settling disputes in the end.
Backing it all last Saturday night was a seasoned band of musicians—including Marcel Daguerre on electric guitar, Charles Mohnike on drums, Rags Tuttle on keyboards and Mike DeTrolio on bass.
The second act tended to drag a bit in places, and a few of the songs did little to move the plot forward. But the high energy unleashed by the entire cast in the last 10 minutes more than made up for any lags. It’s a fun show, and as somebody once put it, "A splendid time is guaranteed for all."