Mel Edison’s day has been nothing short of terrible. After losing his job as the executive of a high-end Manhattan firm during an economic recession, his wife gets the axe at her job, causing an emasculated Mel to fall into a depression. To make matters worse, a heat wave strikes, the couple’s apartment is robbed, and Mel’s psychiatrist dies, causing him to have a nervous breakdown. On the verge of surrender following his series of unfortunate events, Mel realizes that his indignity may just be the very best thing to happen to him.
So goes the plot of Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue, this month’s production at The Granite Theatre in downtown Westerly. The year-round theater opened its curtains on its 18th season in March with an experimental array of shows. Simon, a Granite Theatre favorite, delivers rapid-fire one-liners on the topical issue of job insecurity. The production runs August 3-26, with Jude Pascatello directing and husband-and-wife team Mark and Diane Foster leading the cast.
Following The Prisoner of Second Avenue and running throughout the month of September is Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced. Directed by John Cillino, one of the theater’s most talented mystery directors, the story will follow a chaotic plot in a small town’s search to find a murderer’s identity after a frightening notice is placed in the newspaper about a murder that’s yet to occur. Granite Theatre artistic director David Jepson says that “audiences can expect to see a production steeped in the atmosphere of a different era” as the spine-tingling mystery unfolds.
In October, Anna Convery will direct Bell, Book and Candle, the story of a modern-day witch who falls in love with her writer-tenant. The show, though nothing like it, is inspired by sitcom-fantasy television show Bewitched. Through the holiday season, Jepson himself will direct the theater’s production of Annie. It’ll be the third time in his 40-year career that he’s directed the Broadway blockbuster. He praised the theater for its innovation, despite their limited production space, for how they “wow [their] audience as [they] move them from the dark orphanage to the streets of New York City and the opulent Warbucks mansion.”
Jepson expects a huge turnout for each of the season’s remaining shows. He says that the “culture of a dedicated audience in their small community is [like a] family.” For Jepson, the magic isn’t limited to the stage. It extends from every seat in the house. Westerly