Thoughts & Musings

2nd Story’s ‘Baldpate’ Predictable but Zany

No one does this stuff better than Ed Shea and his 2nd Story Theatre.

by Channing Gray, Providence Journal
  • 3rd February 20143/02/14
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Ed Shea and his 2nd Story Theatre have a knack for the campy, for drawing-room farces and plays like “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” the George M. Cohan potboiler about a pop novelist who bets he can write a novel while locked away for 24 hours and deserted inn.

Shea, who brings his usual energetic directing to the production, had been running the show in two acts with intermission. Now, it’s down to a single two-hour take, which keeps the action and the suspense taut.

Cohan, the Providence native who wrote “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” penned “Baldpate” 100 years ago, which makes it as old as 2nd Story’s home base, a former union hall on Warren’s Market Street.

The play opens with snow falling outside the closed-up Baldpate Inn, a summer resort in the dead of winter. William Hallowell Magee, a shameless writer of melodramatic romances, has wagered he can write a 10,000-word novel in 24 hours locked away in the spooky inn.

He is assured that he has the only key, and no one will bother him. But over the course of the night a host of people show up, all with their own keys. Along the way, a ghost appears, crooks take over the inn and a woman is shot –or is she?

It seems at times that Agatha Christie might have taken her inspiration for “The Mousetrap” from “Baldpate,” with its night of intrigues in a snow-bound inn. It’s a predictable show on some levels, except for the plot twist at the end.

The show has a pretty big cast, led by Ara Boghigian as Magee, the novelist. Boghigian just gets more and more comfortable on stage, and makes for a suave and confident literary type in this show.

The play opens with Anthony Pesare, whose day job is chief of the Middletown Police Department, setting up the action. He, along with Liz Hallenbeck, play the innkeepers who come to Baldpate on a snowy winter day to help Magee settle in.

Erin Elliott stands out as newswoman Mary Norton, who more than ends up getting her scoop.

The show is taking place in 2nd Story’s larger upstairs theater, and has a knockout set from house designer Trevor Eilliott.

Again, “Baldpate” is campy. But no one does this stuff better than Ed Shea and his 2nd Story Theatre. It’s light-hearted theater, but pretty crisp, and and very goofy.

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