Theatre — The Prisoner Of Second Avenue

Stage One kicks off season at the Chateau

By Michelle Saturley

Stage One Productions, the longest running theatre group in Manchester, will begin its winter season of dinner theater at the Chateau Restaurant with The Prisoner of Second Avenue, a Neil Simon comedy.

Stage One mastermind and founder George Piehl will play the lead role of Mel, a middle-aged Manhattan apartment dweller, who is coming unglued due to the relentless pace of city life. After dealing wacky neighbors, thin apartment walls, barking dogs and a garbage worker strike, the final blow is dealt when Mel loses his job. In typical Neil Simon fashion, the ensuing mental breakdown is both wordy and hilarious. Matters are made worse when Mel’s dysfunctional family gets into the picture, under the guise of trying to help.

The cast also includes some of the area’s finest ensemble actors, such as Sue Sartorelli, who plays Mel’s wife, Edna; Maggie Mark, Carrie Schneider, Stage One alum Janelle Ouellette, and Jim Kruise.

Piehl first produced Prisoner with Stage One back in the ‘80s and felt it was time for a revival.

“I think the material is more timely than ever,” he said. “It’s good to revisit great material with a new cast and a different audience to see how they respond to it.”

The script was made into a movie in 1975, starring Jack Lemmon as Mel and Anne Bancroft as Edna. Although the movie relied more heavily upon elements of drama and social commentary, the stage script calls for lighting-fast quips and witty banter as well as some broad comic moments—which is what the actors of Stage One do best.

Prisoner of Second Avenue opens Friday, Nov. 19 and runs through Sunday, Nov, 21 at the Chateau Restaurant. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. The Sunday brunch begins at noon, and the dinner show begins at 5. To purchase tickets, call the Stage One box office at 669-5511.

—Michelle Saturley

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