May 2015
by George S. Kaufmann
Directed by Ricardo Rust
at the Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond Street, New York City

Stage Manager:  Alyson Cermak
Set Designer: Jeff Stander
Costume Designer: Viviane Galloway
Sound Designer: DeLisa White
Properties Designer:  Sara Slagle
Lighting Designer:  Andrew Trent

Press Representative:  Alton PR and Production
Photographer:  Connolly Photo NYC

Featuring:  Heather E. Cunningham*, Rebecca Gray Davis, Shay Gines, Sarah K. Lippmann*, C.J. Malloy, Ryan McCurdy*, Chad Anthony Miller, Ben Schnickel, Seth Shelden, Brian Silliman*, Alisha Spielmann*, and Matthew Trumbull*

*Appeared courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.

"And leave it to Retro Productions to make a 90 year old script feel fresh and fun." - Robert Gonyo, Go See A Show

"Retro Productions' Dazzling Revival... this is one helluva revival – or to use the vernacular of the 1920s: “This show’s a pipe.”  (No, I didn’t know what the phrase meant either until I read the definition provided in the play’s program: “It’s a cinch, easy as pie, sure to succeed.”)  For that is just what this revival deservedly is: a pipe, a cinch, and sure to succeed....  The cast is wonderful across the board with several terrific standouts.  Brian Stillman plays the role of Joe as a loud, trumpeting, cigar-chomping alpha male – something of a cross between Zero Mostel, Jim Belushi and Jackie Gleason – while Matthew Trumbull acts the part of his sidekick, Jack, in truly reptilian fashion.  Shay Gines channels Gloria Swanson in her portrayal of Mary Martin and both Ben Schnickel and Alisha Spielmann are the fresh-faced innocents, Peter and Jane, that any mother would be proud to call her own.  Ricardo Rust, the play’s director, also deserves a special shout-out, not only for his overall success in eliciting such fine performances from his very talented cast but also for his remarkably creative choreography of the play’s scene transitions.  It is all too often the case that audiences at off off Broadway plays must suffer through distracting and time-consuming scene changes that not only do nothing to enhance the theatrical experience but actually detract from it.  Quite the opposite is the case here.  In this revival of The Butter and Egg Man at the Gene Frankel Theatre on Bond Street in lower Manhattan, the scene transitions themselves are entertaining as the entire cast acts in concert, rearranging and transporting furniture and props in a delightfully choreographed dance straight out of the “Roaring Twenties.”"  Alan Miller, A Seat on the Aisle

"The cast members here appear to be having a blast and it's infectious.  Director Ricardo Rust even makes the scene transitions fun to watch with some bits of Twenties choreography. This also distracts as the set converts from an office into a hotel room, an impressive feat for such a small space and probably budget (Jeff Standler designed the scenery)." - Linda Buchwald, Theatre is Easy

"Retro Productions has assembled a game cast under the direction of Ricardo Rust, all of whom enthusiastically take on these cartoony, absurdly self-involved characters with zest...  That the actors in this show succeed as well as they do is a testament to their talents and Mr. Rust’s understanding of the period... the net result is an enjoyably wacky evening in the company of likeable crazies.  Joe Lehman (a fearlessly boorish Brian Silliman) and his partner Jack McClure (a quietly intense Matthew Trumbull) ... Peter Jones (Mr. Schnickel, wide-eyed and adorable)...  Jane Weston (Alisha Spielmann, who finds a rainbow of emotions in a colorless role)...  Joe’s wife, Fanny, a robust Heather E. Cunningham who almost steals the show with her snide wisecracks, serves as the giddily sardonic Greek chorus.  Fritchie is played by Ryan McCurdy [who] is amusingly brittle.  The rest of the cast includes a waiter (C.J. Malloy), a dippy flapper with a “Noo Yawk” accent (Sarah K. Lippmann), a screechy-voiced hotel telephone operator (Rebecca Gray Davis), and an English impresario (Seth Shelden), all of whom seem to be having a great time.The set by Jeff Stander is quite extravagant by Off-Broadway standards.  Viviane Galloway’s costumes are equally elaborate with great attention to detail and character." - Joel Benjamin, Theatrescene.net

"The production comes alive in very funny ways in Act II, scene 2 when all the characters heretofore familiar and the director converge in a hotel room to discuss what’s wrong with the play that they’re trying out of town in Syracuse. Oh my god, a couple of drinks, a lot of hurt pride, and vanity galore and the scene sizzles with fun. This scene is directed and played beautifully...  Alisha Spielmann as the ingénue secretary Jane Weston is spot on, as is the potentially duped guy from Chillicothe, Ohio, Peter Jones, played by the charmingly sincere Ben Schnickel. But for some unexplainable magical reason it is Ryan McCurdy as Oscar Fritchie, the hotel manager, who almost steals the show. His detailed, quirky performance is so comically peculiar and yet so honest that it’s like watching someone trip on a banana peel. You want to look away but it’s too fun and you can’t. The director Ricardo Rust has a lot of experience as a choreographer, and the choreographed scene changes are clever and entertaining." -  Susan Hasho, TheatrePizzazz

"The play’s agreeable qualities turn up in Retro’s production mostly in scenes from the play’s second half—particularly in sequences in which Schnickel and Spielmann figure prominently. They make an attractive, likeable pair. Schnickel lets the naïve Jones’s latent intelligence materialize gradually and believably. And Spielmann brings both a kind-hearted and an intrepid quality to Jane. She comes off as a Jazz Age smart cookie. Another fun performance comes from Ryan McCurdy, as a mournful hotel proprietor who has suffered a worse bite from the theatre-bug than the one Jones sustained." - Mark Dundas Wood, Stage Buddy

"It’s Retro’s routinely excellent revival of George S. Kaufman’s 1925 comedy hit, The Butter and Egg Man, directed with gusto by Ricardo Rust.  On a series of beautiful sets designed by Jeff Stander, nothing, not even Prohibition or morality, can stop the show from going on... As the plot thickens, two delightful slimy Broadway producers, Joe Lehman (the magnetic Brian Silliman) and Jack McClure (the chameleonly Matthew Trumbull) are looking for a way to save their new show... Joe’s wife, the independently wealthy and vocal Fanny Lehman (the dynamite Heather Cunningham)...  Their ingénue assistant, Jane Weston (the impeccable Alisha Spielmann) shows in Peter Jones (the fresh-faced Ben Schnickel)... fancy director Cecil Benham (the uproarious Chad Anthony Miller)... Peggy Marlowe (the towering inferno of Sarah K. Lippmann)... Kitty Humphreys (the tough-as nails Rebecca Grey Davis)... A.J. Patterson (the meticulous Seth Shelden)...  Viviane Galloway's period costumes are delicious.   Ricardo Rust throws in some charming touches, just the way Jack twirls his hat, or Oscar arranges furniture in the hotel he detests, or A.J. wipes the desk with his kerchief before putting his briefcase down, or how the cast does a little dance to "Ain't She Sweet" during scene changes." - Ed Malin, NYTheatreNow

"The joy last night was in seeing a bunch of  gonzo operators (most of whose work I know and love) bring their A-game, and play their parts big and true, (doing both at the same time — that’s always the magic act)...  As the scheming Broadway producer, Brian Silliman is a thunderbolt, chewing the scenery and his cigar ends with equal parts aggression and relish. His performance is downright balletic, as large as an exploding gas station but as full of comic flourishes and filligrees as Barrymore’s in Twentieth Century. It may be projection in part but I feel like I caught flashes of Dom Deluise, Jackie Gleason, Zero Mostel, Oliver Platt, Chris Farley, Jack Black and thanks to the big cigar, Edward G. Robinson. See him now: before he kills himself or someone else in this performance. He is the pace-setter for this show, pulling the company forward like a roped rhinoceros. (H’m, now I want to see him in Rhinoceros. Come to think of it, Mostel was in that. too)... Big praise, too, for Shay Gines who is UNRECOGNIZABLE in the plum role of an aging stage diva, By unrecognizable, I mean I did not know it was her (and I’ve known her for many years) until I looked in the program at intermission. She delivers the goods. She’s definitely drawing from Gloria Swanson, but there’s a lot of stage ham in what she’s delivering too (I thought of Dame Diana Rigg, but Rigg’s just the latest in a line as long as Leviticus. The point is she conjures memories of big stage and screen personalities.)... And a third revelation (among so many) was Seth Shelden, whom I’d never heard speak on stage, in TWO separate roles, each as unalike from the other as unalike can be. Not surprisingly, he brings hilarious physical work to each, with his usual attention to detail, but he also used his voice to great comic effect (I suppose I’m having the same kind of Seth moment as others did when they first saw him as Harpo, but in reverse.)... Kaufman is all about the comedy ensemble and all of ’em shine here: Matthew Trumbull against type as Silliman’s streetwise but low-key sidekick (Norton to his Kramden); Heather Cunningham summoning Sophie Tucker and Marie Dressler as a wise-cracking nouveau riche ex-vaudeville juggler; Sarah K. Lippmann (also against type) as a flapper with a weakness for champagne; Alisha Spielmann, sweet and wide-eyed as the honest ingenue; and Rebecca Gray Davis as a truth-talking telephone operator. New to me was Ben Schnickel, who in the title role possessed a quality I can only describe to 30 Rock fans as “Kennethesque”, and Ryan McCurdy, whose performance was so offbeat and convincingly screwy that I am eager to see his next performance so I can see what he is really like. And wait, also Chad Anthony Miller, as a self-involved, time-serving director, and C.J. Malloy as Zero, the Lobby Boy!...  The house at the Gene Frankel is VERY small so get your tickets now. Once word gets around, you AIN’T gettin’ a ticket to this unless they move it. I would gladly see this production again several times, that’s how much I enjoyed some of these performances. Thanks, Retro Productions, for reminding me — again — of why I ever got involved in the theatre." - Trav S. D., Travalanche

WE ARE VERY PROUD TO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN AMERICA'S INAUGURAL RED NOSE DAY IN SUPPORT OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH FUND!   On May 20th and 21st we raised money for this wonderful charity in conjunction with Red Nose Day.


Listen to the GO SEE A SHOW podcast about THE BUTTER AND EGG MAN!