Nancy Robinette brings great charisma and charm to the role of Mrs. Laura Partridge, a small stockholder in a big company who attends a board meeting and asks why the chairmen of the board make so much money. These greedy CEOs think that by bringing Mrs. Partridge on in the fictional position of stockholder relations they can keep her quiet.
Instead, Mrs. Partridge, with the help of her secretary Amelia Shotgraven and the mail room attendant Mark Jenkins, begins reaching out to the stockholders. The four CEOs send Mrs. Partridge on a trip to Washington D.C. to talk their former boss, Edward McKeever, into awarding them government contracts.
But their plans are thwarted when Mrs. Partridge talks McKeever into coming back to the company to save it from the hands of his successors. Using vintage-style newsreel footage to help summarize the proceedings of several days, Mrs. Partridge and McKeever face off with the CEOs and finally succeed in bringing these greedy fat cats to their knees.
The play belongs to Nancy Robinette. Playing an ex-actress who follows her horoscope religiously, she is self-effacing in one moment and self-promoting in the next, delivering her lines with deft comedic timing. And in a scene toward the end of the play, she allows the cheery facade to slip and we see the vulnerability of a woman who has always had to make her own way in the world.
Michael Goodwin provides a wonderful counterpoint as Edward McKeever, a strong and dynamic businessman who still harbors boyhood dreams of being an actor. In one scene, he performs a monologue for Mrs. Partridge complete with physically acting out each line to the point of climbing up on the desk to deliver his final words with gusto.
David Sabin is the blustery T. John Blessington, chairman of the board who would rather romance the girl in the advertising department than look after business matters. James Slaughter is the southern gentleman Alfred Metcalfe whose conscience and common sense occasionally break through the appeal of easy money. The wheeling and dealing is left to Paul Nolan as Clifford Snell, the energetic and slightly greasy numbers man. And Leo Erickson plays Warren Gillie, the nervous secretary of the board who startles easily and shies away from confrontation.
Laura Dunlop plays Mrs. Partridge’s secretary, Amelia Shotgraven, straight-laced and slightly severe at first, but who soon lets her hair down and finds inspiration in Mrs. Partridge’s mission. Russell Jonas is outgoing and flirtatious as Mark Jenkins, the mail room attendant who quickly falls in love with Amelia.
Though first performed in 1953, the themes of The Solid Gold Cadillac continue to resonate with audiences today. And the Studio Theatre’s presentation is well done and a worthy investment of your time.
The Solid Gold Cadillac
By Howard Teichmann and George S. Kaufman; directed by Paul Mullins; setting by James Kronzer; lighting by Mark Lanks; Costumes by Alex Jaeger; sound/projections by Erik Trester
Nancy Robinette (Mrs. Laura Partridge), Michael Goodwin (Edward L. McKeever), David Sabin (T. John Blessington), James Slaughter (Alfred Metcalfe), Paul Nolan (Clifford Snell), Leo Erickson (Warren Gillie), Laura Dunlop (Amelia Shotgraven), Russell Jonas (Mark Jenkins), Chelsey Christensen (Miss L’Arriere), Robert Aubrey Davis (Narrator), Gordon Peterson (Dwight Brookfield), Doug McKelway (Bill Parker), Greta Kreuz (Estelle Evans), Daniel Kenner (Ensemble), Daniel Flint (Ensemble), Michael Hammond (Ensemble), Declan Cashman (Ensemble)
The Solid Gold Cadillac is playing at the Studio Theatre through January 10.