A Well Balanced Cast

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Bebe NeuwirthBebe Neuwirth

Bebe Neuwirth

I’m back from seeing the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s production of Adam Bock’s one act play A Small Fire starring Bebe Neuwirth, and I’m happy to report that there were two delightful surprises.

The first one had nothing to do with the play. A few minutes before the show was to begin, as I sat in my seat, a fellow approached me and started to say, “Are you Jim Troutman?” I turned and there was a spark of recognition, but before I could get the words out he added, “I’m Allan Rosen.”

“Yes, of course, I recognize you,” I said. Allan (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m no longer certain how he spells his first name with two L’s and an A, as I have it, or one L and an E, or two L’s and an A; it’s been that long since we’ve been in contact) is one of my former bosses (one of the good ones) from my DPSC days. [Update: I am informed that he spells it Allan, which is what I initially thought and how I jotted it down in my notes; it’s just the more I thought about it the more it seemed wrong. That’ll teach me to stop thinking.]

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We spent a few minutes chatting and determined that he had retired before I did, although he had come back to work as a contractor for HP for a time, that I was fully retired, although I had done a little part time tech support briefly, and it had probably been at least 15 years since the last time we saw each other, and then only fleetingly.

It was great to see him again. But I really must learn to spell his name properly. On the way home I kept trying to picture it, and frankly all three spellings look right to me, but that’s probably because I’ve known people who’ve spelled their names all three ways.

The other surprise was in the cast. I was expecting a great performance from Bebe Neuwirth, and I was not disappointed, but her three cast mates gave equally committed performances. It truly was a well balanced cast. And I was reminded that I had seen John Dossett, who plays Neuwirth’s husband in the play, back in the 2003 production of Gypsy, when we took our parents to New York for their 60th anniversary.

The two other players were Sarah Gliko, as the daughter, and Oge Agulué as the foreman of the company that Neuwirth owns.

It’s an 80 minute play about a control freak (played by Neuwirth, of course) who has to learn to live her life in a completely different way when she gradually begins to lose her senses, starting with her sense of smell. And the play also deals with how the people in her life have to come to grips with this life-altering situation.

There are no dramatic fireworks, and there are touches of humor along the way, but mostly playwright Bock treats the situation in a low key, realistic manner. Joanie Schultz directed the production in a leisurely fashion but kept the action moving so there were no lulls.

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