Driftwood Players

"Broadway Bound" July 1990

By Neil Simon, Directed by John Carlberg

Ron Hertel: (Stan) Joe E. Kruft: (Eugene)

Hank Bilderback: (Ben) Ann McCabe: (Blanche)

Ron Hertel, Joe E. Kruft

Hank Bilderback, Christine Livingston: (Kate)

Chuck Jones: (Jack) Christine Livingston

Christine Livingston, Joe E. Kruft

Pictures by
Alan Stamwitz

From The Daily World Thursday, July 12, 1990

Conflict vies with humor in Driftwood Players' 'Broadway Bound' show

By Micki Colwell
Daily World correspondent

    Two young men trying to break into show business in 1949, while the family unit is disintegrating is the plot of Driftwood Players latest Neil Simon production, "Broadway Bound."

    Playwright Simon is popular for his comedy's and although he uses his comic genius in great dialogue, this show is more humorous than it is a comedy.

    John Carlberg directs this fine production with a great deal of insight into his characters. The chemistry among the actors is evident as the story unwinds and by the curtain call the audiences were on their feet both nights with standing ovations.

    The Audience witnesses an intimate look at a stereotypical family in unconventional situations as the family unit gradually unravels. Sadly enough, what happens to the Jerome family is a foretelling of the social upheavals to come in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Chris Livingston, well-known to Hoquiamites as the city librarian and also a veteran Driftwood actress, plays Kate Jerome. She is mother to aspiring Broadway scriptwriters Eugene (Joe E. Kruft) and Stan (Ron Hertel), wife of Jack (Chuck Jones) and daughter of Ben (Hank Bilderback).

    These are the principal characters around which much conflict develops: Jack is preparing to leave Kate; Ben who lives with the Jeromes, has left his wife, who now lives with affluent high-society daughter Blanche (Ann McCabe), while the young men are struggling to sell their first script.

    In the "Lion in Winter," Livingston portrayed the bitter Queen Eleanor and won a best Actress Award for her portrayal. And last season she played the mother in "Brighton Beach Memoirs."

    Equally strong in this show, she portrays a devoted Jewish mother who serves her family well with little show of emotion.

    One of the most touching scenes in the play is between Livingston and Eugene when she relays her one claim to fame, that she danced with George Raft as a young woman.

    "Show me how you danced with George Raft," pleads Eugene, enticing his mother away from her problems and into a fleeting memory of happiness.

    We see a warm almost vulnerable side to her character, and Livingston nearly blushes as she dances on. It is a real pleasure to see a less intense side of her acting ability.

    Kruft graduated from Aberdeen High School in 1989, and last year attended New York University, Tisch School of Arts and Lee Strasberg Actors' Studio.

    As Eugene, the youngest Jerome boy, Kruft fits the part like a glove. He also played the lead role in the first two plays in this Simon trilogy: "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and "Biloxi Blues."

    Kruft is a very accomplished young actor totally at ease on stage and although he has only been away studying for one year, the young actor demonstrates plenty of maturity.

    His acting bug started when he was a very young boy in the opening of Driftwood's new Theatre in the Production of "Mame." And I predict he'll be entertaining audiences for years to come.

    Hertel recently arrived on the Harbor with a score of acting credits, and a bachelor's degree in Music Theatre Education from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He had the lead in the last Driftwood production of "Blithe Spirit." where he played a very mature writer who's dead wife appears and throws his household into a frenzy.

    It's quite a plum to be cast in a role of a character almost twenty years younger and to actually pull it off. Hertel demonstrates his great acting ability by not only convincing the audience with his verbal skill and enthusiasm, but his body language is an exacting complement.

    There seems to be an excellent bond between Kruft and Hertel and they complement each other very well.

    Bilderback is a familiar face on the driftwood stage and is as comfortable in his role as a overbearing grandfather to the boys and father to Kate and Jerome, as he is in a musical.

    In "Brighton Beach Memoirs," he played the father with a wonderful understanding of his character. In this production, Bilderback ages to become the grandpa, who is the strong-willed patriarch who hates social injustice.

    His charming portrayal of this aging, but stubborn man causes a wide spectrum of emotions. And he seems to be the stability for the household to hang on to, although he pretends not to understand what's going on.

    Chuck Jones has appeared in a wide variety of drama since moving to Grays Harbor, appearing in "Fifth of July" and "Sunshine Boys."

    Although his role is quite small in this production, he gives a very intense portrayal of the father who seems to have his own agenda which doesn't include the family.

    Ann McCabe moved here several years ago from Illinois and is a Registered Nurse at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. New to the stage, McCabe already has three shows under her belt. "The Diary of Anne Frank," Social Security," and Brighton Beach Memoirs," in which she first created the role of Blanche, the sister. She is again very convincing as the daughter who because she is married and wealthy seems to have lost the affection of her father.

    Carlberg also has a fine production company headed by Assistant Director, Jane Hansen, and be sure to notice the up-town style of programs that are debuting this show.

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