The Stagecrafters Theater presents its 533rd production with Sidney Howard’s adaptation of THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN. Bean was an artist who made his way to live on his doctor’s premises while he was ill. Unappreciated—even ridiculed—the starving artist managed to capture his impressions of the world around him during his stay. Even the doctor’s family considered his “silly pictures” junk, using them to patch holes in a leaky roof. A decade after his death, the doctor and his family find themselves in their own financial woes and learn just how valuable Bean really was.
Dr. Haggert (Scott Grumling) is that doctor, a country doctor who lives with his family and maid in the country outside of Boston. Familiar with comfort and routine, the family is about to experience a whirlwind of change. Their long-term maid Abby (Jen Allegra) is on her last day working for the Haggerts and will be heading to Chicago to help her recently widowed brother care for his children. The economic climate has hit the Haggerts hard and Dr. Haggert breaks the news to his family that they may not be able to make their usual winter escape to Florida. His wife Hannah (Linda Palmarozza) and spoiled older daughter Ada (Rebecca Latimer) are clearly more upset about the loss of this expected luxury than saying goodbye to their dear maid Abby. However, the younger daughter Susan is quite a bit more grounded. Focused on her secret love to local artist Warren (Brian Weiser) against her family’s wishes, she hopes her family remains engrossed in their own greed long enough for her and Warren to elope.
Then Dr. Haggert receives a telegram that will bring out the best and the worse in himself and those around him. Davenport (Mike Mogar) hopes to pay a visit to the Haggerts to view the famous pieces left there by now revered master of his time, one Christopher Bean. Enter parasites: Tallant (Conner Behm) is a master of art forgery and mind games and Rosen (Joe Herman), a low-balling art salesman. Faced with the solution to their financial woes, Dr. Haggert, his wife, and daughter Ada set about searching for the artwork they once mocked and potentially destroyed. They soon learn that the maid Abby may have the most valuable piece of all and conspire to make it their own to sell.
A story that is relevant across time, we see how potential fortune and luxury can reveal someone’s true colors. Director Barbara Mills does a wonderful job highlighting the talent of her cast and crew to tell this story. The cast is believable and has the audience clearly rooting for the underdog and ultimately to the memory of a man, an artist, who pursued his real passion and found the most wealth of all in life—the richness of love.
[Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Avenue] February 5-21, 2016. thestagecrafters.org.