Woman with Pocketbook (1998)

Winner of New Line Theatre's
1998 One-Act Musical Competition

Music by Jeff Blumenkrantz
Book and Lyrics by
Annie Kessler and Libby Saines
March 6-14, 1998
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

Doris – Angie (Shultz) Reinert
Dave – Tim Schall
Helen – Cindy Duggan
God – John Ricroft
Angel – Marian Holtz
Angel – Sherry Ingmire
Angel – Mo Monahan
Angel – Renee Sevier

Directors – Scott Miller and Alison Helmer
Assistant Director – T. Joseph Reinert
Choreographer – J.T. Ricroft
Set Designer – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – L.D. Lawson
Lighting Technician – Sara Underwood
Pocketbook Set Pieces – Jack Helmer
Graphic Design – Tracy Collins

Piano – Scott Miller
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“The music by Jeff Blumenkrantz is pleasant, and the lyrics by Annie Kessler and Libby Saines are often very clever. With appealing performances from the New Line cast, Woman with Pocketbook adds up to an engaging curtain-raiser [to March of the Falsettos].” – Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The cast treats this new material well, with really strong comic performances.” – Bob Wilcox, The Riverfront Times

The second half of our evening is a wonderfully whimsical romp through some other compelling issues. New Line held a competition last year for new one-act musicals, a fascinating but almost non-existent genre. Of the twenty-eight shows submitted, Woman with Pocketbook was by far the most interesting and the most fun. In this society that values individual liberties as highly as we do, this show asks some interesting questions. What happens when our concept of individual freedom meets the rigid strictures of religion? How much room is there for individual choice in organized religion's view of God and heaven? And, more to the point, is a moral act truly moral if a person is forced into it?

Both Woman with Pocketbook and March of the Falsettos [the other half of this evening of one-act musicals] are extremely funny and extremely irreverent. Both shows ask some tough questions and leave it to us to sort through the answers, to draw conclusions about love, relationships, family, and God.

And after all, isn't that what theatre does best?

In the spring of 1998, I received a call from a cast member of New Line’s Woman with Pocketbook. They needed an extra Angel and thought of me. It was my first experience at New Line and I was thrilled to be asked, but wasn’t sure what I got myself into. I found out that this Scott Miller guy really isn’t dealing with a full deck. I liked that about him, but he was asking the impossible from his “Angels.” The libretto called for numerous songs of different languages, one verse in Spanish, one verse in Italian, one in Russian, you name it. I was never sure if it was fake or not. Actually, I was never sure of the lyrics! But I wasn’t alone. Angels can be smart. When we didn’t know a line we would look at one another in the hopes somebody would. We each knew certain sections of the foreign lyrics, and among all of us, we could cover them and everybody thought we actually knew what we were doing.
– Mo Monahan, “Angel”

When I heard about this show and found out that Scott was looking for a “crooner,” I knew I had to be a part of it. Besides, how many other chances would I get to play GOD (typecasting of course), especially a God who drinks martinis and smokes cigarettes. Kind of a mix between Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Michael Landon from Highway to Heaven. I remember we pondered hard over “What would God wear?” We had discussion after discussion, and then resolved ourselves to taking the most honest way out. A bright red jacket and black slacks! (Yeah, Scott wanted to take the traditional way, as usual.) Well, the reviews came out and there was hell to pay (pah-dum pah). It seemed that the St. Louis theatre- going public didn't want to see God portrayed in this manner, or at least a few reviewers didn't think it was in good taste. In either case, we gave people things to talk about, which is the whole purpose, right? I was glad that some got the joke and went beyond it to get the meaning and the meat of the production. When you die, you don't get to take the “stuff.” In the last moments, the only thing that matters is what you have on the inside and not what you have in your pocketbook. It was a relief to know that so many people already knew that.
– John Ricroft, “God,” choreographer

It is not often you get the chance to appear in the world premiere of a musical. I found myself as a twenty-four-year-old cast in the role of a sixty-year-old Jewish woman from Brooklyn, but I was so excited to be the lead! I was also terrified to try any accent on the stage, and Scott must have yelled out pronunciations from the piano at me a billion times in rehearsal. When we opened, the show seemed to really connect with many in the audience. It was rewarding to have so many people tell me I reminded them of their mother, their favorite aunt, their crabby neighbor, etc. My gestures onstage and in life became more deliberate, and I learned to stand my ground. Some may consider picking up characteristics of your role as unhealthy, but if you knew Doris, you wouldn't say that. She'd eat you alive.
– Angie Shultz

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