Sterling Playmakers debuts an original romantic comedy, ‘The Social Secretary’

Sterling Playmakers debuts an original romantic comedy, ‘The Social Secretary’

In Newport, Rhode Island, it is 1894, at the peak of the gilded age, and social secretary Clara Rutherford (Michelina Pollini) is interviewing prospective clients. She is ambushed by Elijah Boyd (Riley Mulvihill), a bachelor with an unorthodox proposition. Elijah, who goes by Eli, is a self-designed gentleman with an abundance of new revenue and he is determined to become a member of the illustrious “Four Hundred” — the crème de la crème of Newport aristocracy. The difficulty is that he is anything but refined and not only does he know practically very little of the customs and courtesies of the tremendous-abundant people he does know he seems identified to flout. He will pay back Clara any sum to grow to be his social secretary. So commences a classic story reminiscent of a gender-swapped My Good Girl.

Enthusiasts of Downton Abbey and its family members will delight in the dual nevertheless intersecting stories of the bourgeois upstairs and the servants down under. Ellen Rate (who equally wrote and directed the demonstrate) has no lack of barbs for the absurdity of superior dwelling. The poignant and timeless moments of the tale emerge mostly via the character of Eli. As a rags-to-riches male and son of Scottish immigrants, he hardly ever forgets his humble beginnings and in the peak of a economic downturn hires far more servants than a single loved ones could at any time have to have. It’s a reminder to all that people with usually means are in a exceptional situation to support these without it is merely a issue of character. What it indicates to be a superior individual and what matters most in life are robust themes during the present.

Sterling Playmakers debuts an original romantic comedy, ‘The Social Secretary’
Clara (played by Michelina Pollini) warns Eli (Riley Mulvihill) that ‘appearances are everything’ in large modern society in ‘The Social Secretary.’ Picture courtesy of Alan Price tag shot at historical Morven Park, Leesburg, VA.

Costumes by Judith Harmon, Mikayla Kirr, and Lori Crockett are an quick standout. Each member of this 30-person solid was dressed to impress with elaborate costumes, a rainbow of summer colors, and steady appears amongst the servants. Yet another technological standout is the backdrop of the set by set designers Ellen Value and Scott Ruegg and set artist Terry DiMurro. The stunningly bright, two-dimensional backdrop on a practical system struck a perfect chord for this storybook passionate comedy, lending by itself quickly to upstairs and downstairs living spaces to heighten the course conflicts.

Regrettably, this clever established was underutilized. A great deal of time was invested opening and closing curtains and relocating larger than needed established parts for often incredibly small vignettes. Very simple lighting alterations could just as correctly have indicated shifts in spot. Lighting designer and operator Joe Pecsi would have been extra than up to the task primarily based on the seamless execution of the present layout. Irrespective, hats off to stage manager Joe Campanella and phase crew Geoff Hardy and Ryan Hiese for orchestrating and executing this feat.

Practically everyone in this huge ensemble experienced one particular or much more standout moments, and it would be unattainable to record them all. Highlights involve the indefatigable Caitlin Costello (Beth) and Courtney Garofolo (Kate), who had been a continual supply of wicked delights as they navigated the audience through the most up-to-date gossip. Stuart Fischer (Simpson) and Sally Flores (Mrs. Peters) performed off just about every other properly as the caring however often knowledgeable heads of the household, giving one particular of the much more intriguing times of the enjoy when they remind us that these more than the age of 30 are even now fascinated in romance. Anthony Pohl as Nikolay Kotov, dance instructor, was a scene-stealer each time he waltzed on the stage.

Stars Michelina Pollini as Clara and Riley Mulvihill as Eli educate his nieces and nephew (performed by Leilani Canales, Jackson McGill, and Claire Marshall) about the suitable guidelines of culture in ‘The Social Secretary.’ Photograph courtesy of Alan Cost shot at historic Morven Park, Leesburg, VA.

Working with Price’s script, Pollini and Mulvihill crafted divergent still partaking portraits of two self-designed, impartial individuals producing their way in a earth where by they are outsiders. Pollini’s Clara was regularly degree-headed and serene, providing a apparent contrast to Mulvihill’s large-power hamming up of equally people and viewers. Their romance was equally humorous and touching.

These who are not completely ready for summer time to close will locate heat, adore, and laughter in this new script by a female playwright. The Social Secretary is a intimate beach front go through brought to lifestyle through Sterling Playmaker’s triumphant return to stay theater.

Functioning Time: Two hrs and 30 minutes, such as one particular 15-moment intermission.

The Social Secretary performs via Oct 24, 2021, at The Theatre at Seneca Ridge, 98 Seneca Ridge Dr, Sterling, VA. For tickets ($15 general admission), buy them at the door or purchase them on line.

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