Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, one of New York's longest-running experimental theatres, opens its production of Wall Street: A Farce in Three Acts this week. It was written and performed during the nation's first major recession the so-called Panic of 1819. Previews are Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22. Opening night is Saturday, June 23 and the production closes on Sunday, July 8. All performances run Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. The theatre is located at 549 W. 52nd Street, 3rd Floor, near 11th Ave., subway C/E 50th St.
Medicine Show artistic director, Obie-award winner Barbara Vann directs. The cast includes David Elyha, David Goldyn, Beth Griffith, Richard Gross, Howah Hung, EVan Kaplan, Richard Keyser, Gulshan Mia, Eva Nicole, Jon Okabayashi, and Dieter Riesle. Riesle currently appears in the megahit The Avengers and has a recurring role on USA network's Royal Pains, ironically he played a Swiss banker in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
"This is the most relevant play I have ever read. Although it is about Wall Street in 1819, it is far more informative about today than Wall Street or The Smartest Guys in the Room. This play asks the essential question: what happens to the ordinary people when the speculators go crazy and crash the economy?" said BBC investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling author Greg Palast. "Still," Vann points out, "it's a very funny comedy with a slap-stick quality. It pre-dates vaudeville but has that rambunctious style."
This 1819 script was discovered at the New York Public Library and there is no evidence that is has been performed since then (although there is a revision from 1826 that can be found generally). The play itself is quite short, so the 90-minute program will be rounded out with songs of hard times from the 18th century to now, including folk songs, show tunes, and works by Stephen Foster and Leonard Cohen. At select performances there will be special guests including Broadway performer Zachary James (Lurch in The Addams Family and Hassinger in South Pacific) singing, journalist Greg Palast (author, Vultures' Picnic) reading and fielding questions, and NYC's socially-charged vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rock Wilk performing.
Tickets are $18.00 for general admission, $15.00 for seniors and students. They are available from Smarttix at www.Smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444. For more information, log onto the company's website at www.MedicineShowTheatre.org.
Photo credit: John Quilty