The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
The Solid Gold Cadillac

The way you men are running things, this company is going to close on Saturday night.— Stockholder and unemployed actress Laura Partridge to members of the board of General Products.
The Solid Gold Cadillac now running at Studio Theatre is a period piece, not just because it is set during the Eisenhower era. The gently unfolding plot is almost formulaic. While the jokes have a sweetness to them, they sing rather than zing.

For those who came in late to this kind of comedy, the pace is slow, the repartee somewhat predictable and the outcome fairly obvious from the first few lines. So what? Novelty can be over-rated when all you need is a couple of hours of amusing distraction which is this Cadillac's destination. Besides, there's not a booze-addled character, celebrity impersonator or dysfunctional family (unless you count the business leaders as a family). What a pleasant change for theatergoers.

The plot: Laura Partridge (played by Nancy Robinette with an authentic inquisitiveness and strong sense of right and wrong) attends the annual meeting of General Products, a company that makes everything from pins to autos. "If General Products doesn't make it," states the CEO, "there's no money in it." Partridge owns ten stocks and has a way of asking questions that makes the board very uncomfortable. In an attempt to muzzle her, they in turn offer the out of work actress a job of keeping in touch with the stockholders. Their intent is foiled as Mrs Partridge looks out for stockholders whom she calls "the little guys" — including herself. She's a precursor of what are now called whistleblowers. The only difference being that in those days such an activst facedfewer repercussions than today's brave souls who warn of malfeasance.

In cahoots with the former CEO of General Products, now a Senator in Washington, Edward L. McKeever (an honest performance by Michael Goodwin), Mrs. Partridge wins big. In case you missed the Cinderella elements of this story, Studio's production has added a voice over, narrated by Robert Aubry Davis, that spells it out which, unfortunately, leads to overkill.

Leo Erickson gives a very fine, controlled performance as Warren Gillie, a Board member who is a nervous wreck. Watching his hands shake (and no, it's not the dt's) when confronted with documentation of what the company is up to is a wonderful example of an actor making the most of his part but not overplaying it. Laura Dunlop as Amelia Shotgraven, slowly but aptly builds her character from the desperately-shy and eager to please secretary to Mrs Partridge into a confident young woman. It's a nice transition.

Director Paul Mullins has deftly handled Nancy Robinette, an actress who has cornered the market on ditzy women-of-a-certain-age parts at Washington's theatres ( from Florence Foster Jenkins, the socialite coloratura who insisted on singing despite a total lack of talent to the word-mangling Mrs. Malaprop). Set designer James Kronzer has put the corporate offices of General Products, a back office at the same company and Senator McKeever's office in Washington on a revolve. The corporate office, especially, is redolent of the 1950's. Think Mad Men, the television series. Mark Lanks's lighting is particularly effective when Mrs. Partridge addresses, the four men of the Board, who meet four times a year from the audience. Her "Why do you make so much money?" is a question that many people are asking titans of business today.

The Solid Gold Cadillac by Howard Teichmann and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Paul Mullins
Cast: Robert Aubry Davis (Narrator), David Sabin (T. John Blessington), James Slaughter
(Alfred Metcalf), Leo Erickson (Warren Gillie), Paul L. Nolan (Clifford Snell); Nancy
Robinette (Laura Partridge), Laura Dunlop (Amelia Shotgraven), Russell Jonas (Mark
Jenkins), Chelsey Christensen (Miss L'Arriere), Michael Goodwin (Edward L. McKeever),
Gordon Peterson (Dwight Brookfield), Doug McKelway (Bill Parker), Greta Kreuz
(Estelle Evans).
Set Designer: James Kronzer
Lighting: Mark Lanks
Costumes: Alex Jaeger
Sound and Projections: Erik Trester
Dramaturgy: Sarah Wallace
Running time: 2 hours with one ten-minute intermission
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street, NW; Washington, DC; 202-332-3300;
From December 2, 2009 through January 10, 2010.
Review by Susan Davidson based on December 5, 2009, matinee performance.
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Solid Gold Cadillac
  • I disagree with the review of The Solid Gold Cadillac
  • The review made me eager to see The Solid Gold Cadillac
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

South Pacific  Revival
South Pacific

In the Heights
In the Heights

Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide


©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from