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This review by Joan Crespi was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

September 16, 1998. All rights reserved.

Review: `Move It and It’s Yours’

Find Kelsey Theater, on the campus of Mercer County

College, and you’re in for a delightful evening as "Move It And

It’s Yours!," a fine and funny new musical, plays there through

September 27. Written by Trenton-born Bill Weeden, with David Finkle

and Sally Fay, and staged by Susan Rosenstock, the musical, a world

premier and Passage Theater Company’s first major production under

producing artistic director June Ballinger, entertains and makes you

smile. That this professionally-produced new show is running here

rather than Off-Broadway is our good fortune.

The play’s main character, a baby grand piano, occupies center stage

in an otherwise bare apartment. Charlie, its owner, is about to marry

for a second time and is in the process of moving. He plans to give

away the piano to the first comer who will move it out. The plot is

slight and simple, but it is not the plot that captivates us: it’s

the succession of wacky, odd, and amusing characters who parade

through

Charlie’s apartment to consider his offer.

Charlie is a middle-aged man, a would-be musician who dreamed of

success

as a song writer even as he played small piano gigs at night.

Eventually,

without acknowledged sorrow, he sold out his musical potential for

the good life, becoming instead the "crackerjack" editor of

Cheese Horizons magazine.

While he long ago faced his lack of success, Charlie is now giving

away the instrument (literally) of his dream, giving it away without

regret, willing to let his old dream become "someone else’s

dream,"

because his fiancee has no room for the piano in her apartment. The

uncomplicated plot is, finally, gently moving, for Charlie learns

in the course of an afternoon that even after his dream has dissolved,

the piano gives him pleasure. And his fiance? See the show and find

out.

While this is Charlie’s story — and he is onstage for its entire

two-hour duration — he (and perhaps his ex-wife) are the show’s

most conventional characters. Charlie is played with a casual and

believable ease by Bob Walton. He is supported by an gifted ensemble

all of whom play their characters (sometimes two or three) superbly,

and with a fine sense of comic timing.

Andre Montgomery is terrific as the hyped-up jogger who delivers

dictation

into a voice recorder, and later, as a red-sequin-clad artist who

wants to blow up the piano. Laura Kenyon as Bryna, director of a

senior

citizens center, acts and sings and struts beautifully, with a

hilarious

accompanying senior chorus line whose members carry four-pronged

canes.

Kenyon returns to good effect as two very different, demure

characters.

Tom Frey is excellent as Jared, a tongue-tied, straightlaced, nervous

man with the tape measure who surreptitiously measures the apartment.

It’s the piano’s soon-to-be-vacated home that he and his wife want;

and they’ll take the piano, too, if they get it. Very shortly after,

actor Frey reappears is Sheldon, a funky British rock artist who wants

the piano to rock on; Rebecca Dennis plays Eloise, his petite,

seductive

girl friend, who doesn’t.

Jill Abramovitz also plays three roles, including Charlie’s fiance,

Susan, and his ex-wife, Diane. Steve Liebman is touching, lonely,

and funny as Lou, the fat hardware store owner; he doesn’t want the

piano either, but he’s following a dark-haired, timorous, little

plunger-and-pail

thief up to the apartment where she has fled.

The writing is superb as all of the characters who come into Charlie’s

apartment are distinctly and vividly drawn in their peculiar oddities.

It’s not merely the parade of wacky characters that captures our

fancy,

but their interaction as they vie with each other for the free piano.

And it’s not only the acting and the writing that are top-notch. The

singing voices are, too. So are the songs, which each character

renders

on the baby grand, each cleverly suited to its character. Would-be

piano owners coming to view the piano and try it out bring their own

musical talents, as do the actors. Every actor who sits down at the

piano plays their own music. Offstage keyboards are by musical

director

Wendell Smith. Philip Heckman’s appropriate and often delightful

costumes

underscore the comedy.

Certainly August Wilson’s 1990 play "The Piano Lesson" went

deeper, but this play has its own funny lesson to teach. While the

wisdom this play puts forth — Life is difficult, Life is what

you make it — may not be new or profound, it doesn’t matter. The

lesson is as enjoyable as they come.

— Joan Crespi

Move It and It’s Yours!, Passage Theater Company,

Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College, 609-584-9444. Continues through

September 27. Adults $15 to $25; children $10.


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