New Edgecliff Theatre (NET) brands itself as “Cincinnati’s Actors Theatre” for good reason. Their current offering of Other People’s Money at Fifth Third Bank Theater at downtown’s Aronoff Center shows off strong Cincinnati actors in this still-relevant play about corporate raiders versus small town America. Written by businessman-turned-playwright Jerry Sterner, the 1989 play ran for several years off Broadway and was adapted for a 1991 film with Danny DeVito as Lawrence Garfinkle, a shyster corporate raider, and Gregory Peck as virtuous Andrew Jorgenson, the hard-working owner of New England Wire & Cable, a decades-old company in Rhode Island.
For NET, Robert Allen plays Jorgenson with equal parts earnestness, strength and conviction. Mike Dennis’ Garfinkle (aka “Larry the Liquidator”) is both over the top and right on the money as the most likable unlikable guy in the room.
Mindy Seibert is an able Bea Sullivan, Jorgenson’s longtime assistant and the love of his life. Their controversial relationship in a small town sets up the conflict for the return of Bea’s daughter Kate, an ambitious New York lawyer with anger issues. Elizabeth Chin Molloy humanizes Kate and makes you believe in her oddball chemistry with Garfinkle, all the while rocking some awesome late-’80s suits. Mike King rounds out the cast as William Coles, president of New England Wire & Cable. He has less of a character arc but provides the glue via narration throughout.
Directed by Greg Procaccino, Other People’s Money is both thoughtful and funny. While we understand that the corporate raiders of the 1980s decimated entire communities, it feels more like a nostalgic and wistful take on gentler times. Allen delivers one of the final speeches as a plea to stockholders and lays out what is the likely future as “a nation that makes nothing but hamburgers, creates nothing but lawyers and sells nothing but tax shelters.”
History tells us we didn’t listen to the small-town businessman. Instead, we bought into the unscrupulous, outrageous character that could make us the most money. While Other People’s Money is mainly good entertainment, it just might provoke you to consider whom you are listening to today.
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