The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Legends
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show March 15 - April 19, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

Following close on the heels of their miraculous “Miracle Worker,” Folsom’s Sutter Street Theatre again offers theatre lovers a reason to celebrate in their new production of James Kirkwood’s “Legends.”

The “Legends” of the title are Sylvia Glenn (Connie Mockenhaupt) and Leatrice Monsee (Eileen Beaver) who are aging movie stars. Both won Academy Awards many years ago, but age has caught up with them and movie roles don’t come their way any more. They both live alone in cheap New York apartments hoping something—anything—will turn up.

One evening they both receive calls from a “Broadway” producer (Christopher Celestin) who wants them to appear together in a play. In the conversations each actress reveals that she hates the other and would never appear with her, but when the producer drops the name “Paul Newman” as “connected” to the project, they agree to meet with him. (Yes, it’s kind of an old play.)

Sylvia arranges to hold the meeting in a high-end apartment she will claim is hers. It belongs to another currently successful actress, who has left the apartment with her maid, Aretha. Sylvia moves in and forces Aretha to cancel the bachelorette party she had planned to hold that evening.

Leatrice arrives and soon discovers that the apartment does not belong to Sylvia as the star photos that line the mantelpiece are autographed to the real owner. Sylvia and Leatrice begin sparring with each other, knocking back gins on the rocks, in voices laced with sarcasm. Each seems to be trying to out-bitch the other. It is revealed that during their Hollywood days Leatrice was known for playing nuns and other saintly women while Sylvia made her reputation playing whores and other sluts. We soon begin to suspect, however, that each envies the other for the parts she didn’t get, and that professional jealousy is at the root of their “hatred.”

When they start becoming really vicious, a male stripper hired for the maid’s party (played with great gusto by Jerold McFatter), arrives and, to everyone’s delight, launches into his act before anyone can set him straight. After he leaves, Sylvia and Leatrice go at each other again, but the fight has turned physical as the first act ends.

The second act picks up where the first ended, but the mood begins to change when the antagonists start digging in to hashish-loaded brownies which had been set out for the party. They both begin to mellow out, and end up telling each other the truth about their lives and their fears of living and dying alone and forgotten. The producer arrives and the actresses are appalled to discover that he is, in fact, an “off” Broadway producer.

The performances by Connie Mockenhaupt and Eileen Beaver are absolutely amazing. Although  Peggy Huntsman is very good as Aretha the maid and Christopher Celestine is outstanding in a couple of hilarious scenes as the producer, the two stars really carry the entire play. They cover a huge range of emotions as well as ferocious physical action. Director Mike Jimena (who puts in a brief appearance as a cop) keeps the action in motion throughout.

So theatre lovers who crave memorable performances are advised. Sutter Street Theatre has again reminded us that we don’t need to leave Folsom to see acting at its finest.

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