Review On CLOSED - As Good As Gold


Shari Barrett

Registered Critic, Writer, Publicist


World Premiere Comedy AS GOOD AS GOLD Takes Aim at Hollywood’s Glass Ceiling.
The battle of the sexes has been going on in society for as long as human beings have been on this planet. But with the Women’s Equality and #MeToo movements now in place, playwright, best-selling author, and award-winning film and television writer Marilyn Anderson has created a new play addressing the subject in the world of Hollywood film production, entitled AS GOOD AS GOLD. Its world premiere is now taking place through October 17 at Theatre 40, a professional theatrical company on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. In it, Anderson has put Hollywood show business in her crosshairs as she takes aim from a distinctly female point of view.

There’s laughs aplenty in her incisive look, which centers around three female screenwriters, all frustrated with the sexism and glass ceilings they continue to encounter in Hollywood. Unable to sell their scripts based on the fact they are women dealing with the “good old boy studio executives,” they decide to collaborate on a commercially surefire macho action epic screenplay with a studly hero. And once they have a sure-fire script, the question is how will they get a studio to buy it?

Their solution is to hire a young, naïve would-be-actor to be their front so he can purport to be the author of their screenplay, and rename him Adam Gold. And with his good looks and their great writing, the women know the studios will welcome him into their inner circle. Sure enough, their front/impostor becomes the toast of Hollywood, commanding millions of dollars in asking price for future scripts. But of course, where does all this leave the real hardworking and totally-overlooked three women screenwriters?

Directed with loads of laughs and continuous action by Ann Hearn Tobolowsky, the cast of AS GOOD AS GOLD includes Marie Broderick and Landon Beatty (both recently seen in Theatre 40’s production of Taming the Lion which also addressed a behind-the-scenes look at the Hollywood movie industry), Wendy Hammers, David Westbay, Nicola Victoria Buck, Chance Denman and Will Bradley.

As the three talented screenwriters, Marie Broderick as the group’s ringleader Maggie, Nicola Victoria Buck as the wantonly sexual Karly, and Wendy Hammers as the been-around-for-years-and-seen-it-all Elaine, we are treated to tour-de-force performances representing many of the challenges women face in trying to break into male-dominated industries. Maggie is a brilliant writer in her own right and deserves to gain the attention and respect of those who can bring her scripts into production. Karly knows how to sleep her way to the top, but knows the only way to really get ahead now that so many younger women are playing that same game with men is to get accepted for her mind and not just her dynamic body. And Elaine is starting to wonder if sacrificing her marriage and family for years without really achieving the success she always wanted has really been worth the price she has had to pay with her health and well-being.

As their script is being written, we get to see their hunk of a main character Luke (handsome and rugged Chance Denman) enter the stage through a window, from the audience, or through any number of stage doors, as he acts out the action sequences. Audience members of both sexes will certainly enjoy his first appearance during which the women create his physical persona from being a well-dressed leading man right down to a bullet-laden action hero and eventually an almost-naked boy toy! Denham takes on each challenge with great enthusiasm, just as any brilliant all-around actor should be able to do!

As the would-be much-less-talented actor Jeffrey, who later assumes the identity of the women’s front Adam, Landon Beatty goes from down-home farm boy with an overbite and no wardrobe through all the stages of making it in Hollywood, displaying the wonder and joy such a naïve character would experience as his dreams come true without having to do any real work. Along with the three women writers, you have to be envious of Adam’s new life, playing tennis and golf with the top studio executives and attending parties in the homes of Hollywood’s biggest stars, each of whom wants to star in his next major film. Which of course, the women have to write.

David Westbay appears as studio executive Ed Mansfield, the one man who eventually sees the brilliance of Maggie’s writing and finally gives her the chance to shine in the spotlight on her own two feet. But what she has to go through to get there!

Stealing every scene in which he appears, Will Bradley is a hoot portraying all of the male studio executives and Hollywood stars mentioned in the play. Appearing from various doors and audience entrances, Bradley morphs from character to character thanks to costume designer Michèle Young who, along with the talented actor’s skill, adds in one piece of clothing to denote each character change. Think a cowboy hat for Matthew McConaughey to a towel around his neck for Sly Stallone. I so enjoyed his every appearance and was dazzled by his split-second morphing ability.

Young also has designed a similar easy-to-change wardrobe for each of the three female leads, often with pieces of clothing hanging on the walls of Maggie’s apartment where they meet to work together. Thus many of the slight costume changes via small wardrobe additions are done in full view of the audience, including different hairstyles to denote the passage of time. Kudos to all, especially director Ann Hearn Tobolowsky, for keeping the action moving quickly from scene-to-scene via this quick-change scenario.

Along with Young, tech credits are solid with scenic design by Jeff G. Rack and lighting design by Brandon Baruch. Stage manager/sound designer Nick Foran is to be congratulated for so many aspects of the production, especially making sure all the required food and props are in place and ready for each performance!

So if you are you ready for a comedy about Hollywood that not only addresses that proverbial glass ceiling but offers laughs from start to finish, AS GOOD AS GOLD, produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40, is definitely a play to add to your theatre schedule!

Performances take place Thurs.- Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00 through October 17 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Free parking available in the parking lot adjacent the theatre. To access parking, enter through the driveway at the intersection of Durant and Moreno Drives and follow the signs.
Tickets are $35 with advance reservations at (310) 364-0535 or online at www.theatre40.org
Please note Covid safety protocols are in effect on the day of performance will be observed, including showing proof of vaccinated and properly wearing a mask while inside the theater and building.

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in local secondary schools, working in marketing for several studios, writing, directing, producing, and performing in productions for several non-profit theaters, Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as an independent publicist to "get the word out" about smaller theaters throughout the Los Angeles area.

As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city worked together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles.

Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles, and is honored to serve the theatre world in her hometown.

Currently she is the Publicist and a member of the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse.