Benicia Old Town Theatre Group’s Social Security is in its final weeks. Reviewer Frank Rich has described the play as full of “delicious” gags and jokes, and playwright Andrew Bergman as “at his best.”
Bergman’s screenplays for Blazing Saddles and The In-Laws have given movie audiences plenty of laughs. He centers his award-winning Broadway comedy on a couple, David and Barbara Kahn, Manhattan art gallery dealers whose lives suddenly change when Barbara’s nerdy sister, Trudy, drops off their mother, Sophie, so Trudy and her husband, Martin, can save their daughter from relationships she’s developed at college.
Meanwhile, Sophie is exploring a relationship of her own with an elderly portrait artist, Maurice Koenig, whose minimalist works are displayed at the Kahn’s’ gallery. The play’s been described as “a civilized hoot.”
Social Security was chosen by the theater group’s committee, whose members read numerous scripts before submitting three possibilities for a production. The final selection is decided by a group vote, said Dan Clark, the theater company’s president. “For this fall, their instruction was to find a comedy, no more than two acts and four to eight actors,” Clark said. “Social Security has been in the running before, and popped up again.” This time, it was selected.
Show director Clinton Vidal has the reins as the production’s director. “We know him to be an excellent director, particularly of comedies,” Clark said. “Each was a very good show, and we have won a number of Arty awards for them. In addition, he acted in The Voice of the Prairie and Two Trains Running. Clint is very good about working with community theater actors, many of whom are inexperienced but willing and learning."
The cast’s actors are Nicholas Dahlman, Melaney Bell Baker, Camille Cooney, Tony Rocha, Jackie Blue and Eddie Roberts. All but Baker are new faces to BOTTG. Baker is familiar to theatergoers who saw her in Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Her. But just because the rest of the cast is new to Benicia, it doesn’t mean they’re new to the stage. “Our actors come from all over, with Jackie coming from Berkeley and Tony from Oakland. Experience in this group runs the gamut,” Clark said.
Those attending the play will have the opportunity to take advantage of diner and show combinations for each performance. Participating for this production is Venticellos Ristorante, 911 First St. The restaurant has a full menu with a choice of minestrone soup or house salad; one of three entrees, with dessert options and a soft drink included. “Our patrons love it, as they get a good meal at a fair price, and only have to park once,” Clark said.
Show and dinner tickets, limited to 16 per performance, may be ordered online, but patrons must call the restaurant to set their reservations. Names for the reservation need to be the same as the reservation for the theater tickets, Clark said. Theater patrons dine before the show Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sundays, they dine after the matinee.
Social Security, which opened Oct. 19 with a champagne gala, is playing through Saturday, Nov. 10 at the historic B.D.E.S. Hall, 140 West J St. Friday and Saturday curtains are at 8pm, and Sunday matinees are 2pm. The building is not wheelchair accessible, but enhanced hearing devices are available for each performance. Show and Dinner tickets are $45. General admission to Social Security alone is $22 for adults and $20 for those 62 and older, and students with valid identification.
The Benicia Old Town Theatre Group’s website, where tickets can be ordered is beniciaoldtowntheatregroup.com, and the business number is 707.746.1269.