BWW Review: THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL at Castle Craig Players
On Saturday, September 21, I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Simon's THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL as put on by the Castle Craig Players at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, in Meriden, CT. This hilarious comedy is directed by Pam Amodio and features a highly talented cast of three who gel together wonderfully with each other.
Set in 1966, the set depicts the San Francisco apartment of Andy (David Macharelli) and Norman (Jamie Reopell) who work from their apartment as partners in a magazine that expresses anti-American views. Andy has to deal with people looking for money. David Macharelli does an excellent job providing different phone voices to try to throw a debt collector off track, on the phone. Norman is an over-the-top quirky hippy. Jamie Reopell is extremely convincing in this magnificently performed role.
Sophie (Katie Deponte), a young southern patriot who has represented America in Olympic swimming moves into the apartment next store. Katie Deponte speaks with a consistent spot-on southern drawl in this role. Norman is instantly smitten and becomes disturbingly obsessed with Sophie, in a psychotic stalker kind of way, to the point where he was using binoculars to watch her get on and off the bus each day, in her commute to her job as a swim instructor at the Y.W.C.A. Norman's other behavior includes entering Sophie's apartment while she is at work, painting her deck, looking through her garbage, and even visiting her at work uninvited, with the gift of a live duck who wreaks havoc at the Y.W.C.A. Norman's interest in Sophie is completely unrequited, as she is engaged to a U.S. Marine. She eventually tells Norman to leave her alone, but Norman continues with his abnormal and illegal antics. This leads to Sophie getting fired from her job at the Y.W.C.A.
Norman, meanwhile, is so distracted by his unhealthy obsession with Sophie, that he loses focus on his writing, much to the chagrin of Andy, who is depending on Norman to write the magazine.
Andy suggests to Sophie that he would be willing to hire her to work for him as a secretary, even though Sophie can't type. Andy does this both in hopes that this will help inspire Norman to continue to write and in hopes that Sophie would not press criminal charges on Norman, for his antics. Sophie agrees to accept the position, at the high pay rate she was receiving at the Y.W.C.A. Andy is extremely condescending towards Sophie, really being a complete jerk to her. Andy furthermore tries to get Sophie to excuse the behavior of Norman, behavior that constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace. Andy also berates Sophie over her patriotic views, treating them as not being current or adapted to the changing times. Despite all the disturbing antics of Norman, Andy soon starts coming across as an even bigger creep than Norman.
A twist in the story comes when Sophie tells Andy that she is physically attracted to him. Is she merely trying to get him to understand the uneasiness created by Norman's sexual harassment that Andy is downplaying and essentially excusing? Is she trying to seduce her way to a raise? Is she hoping to manipulate Andy into changing some of his political views? Is she hoping to get Norman off her case by making him jealous? Is she looking to destroy the anti-American magazine by creating division between Andy and Norman? Did Sophie's fiancé cheat on her, and leave her with an unhealthy desire for revenge? Is she hoping to get Andy to back off with the chronic criticism by responding with compliments? Is she hoping to lead Andy on only to dump him and break his heart, after the terrible way that he has treated her? Is she hoping to stick it to Norman in a way that would be the most emotionally painful to Norman? Is there another possible explanation? Come to the show to find out!
I highly recommend THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL as put on by the Castle Craig Players at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, in Meriden, CT. This show is scheduled to continue to run through October 5, 2019. For times and tickets, please go to http://www.castlecraig.org/.