Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

According to Goldman

Andrew Rasmussen (seated) and Stephen Schnetzer
The Florida Stage presents the Southeastern premiere of Bruce Graham's play According to Goldman. The legendary William Goldman is credited with this famous quote about the world of film-making: "Nobody knows anything." He was speaking of the unpredictability of a film's success when choosing subject matter, plot, setting, directors, designers and actors. What can be seen as urbane one moment may be mundane the next. A formula for success, no matter how closely followed, may result in disaster. The attention of the American public may be both fickle and costly to those who would seek to make their mark in the world of film-making.

According to Goldman focuses on the character of Gavin Miller, a has-been screenwriter who has left Hollywood with his wife to settle down and teach. Into his class comes a devoted movie fan named Jeremiah Collins, a religious studies major with a fascinating life story. Recognizing genius in the socially awkward and movie-musical obsessed young student, Gavin's ambition takes charge as he sees in Collins his ticket back to the big time. His collaboration on Jeremiah's story becomes more self-servingly intrusive than artistically nurturing. Gavin's wife Melanie understandably becomes increasingly concerned about the direction their lives are taking as he becomes overly focused on the project at hand.

The Florida Stage has provided a set design that is clean and warm for this production. Laura Turnbull and Stephen Schnetzer turn in solid performances as the Millers, and Andrew Rasmussen plays the socially backwards Jeremiah very well. Unfortunately, Jeremiah's potentially complex and fascinating character is left unraveled. His choices at the end of the play do not logically follow the pattern of his past, nor serve his fantasy-inspired desires for his future. The surprise, movie-musical, tag ending of the play seems an attempt to pick up the rather soft ending of the dialogue of the script. While it fits the theme of the play, it does not fit the ending of the story line, nor does it match the final thoughts of the play's characters. Following an exemplary run of shows at the Florida Stage this season, this uninteresting play is regrettable proof that Goldman's adage is correct. Despite the best of intentions - "Nobody knows anything."

According to Goldman had its world premiere at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. Playwright Bruce Graham has spent eight years as playwright-in-residence at the Philadelphia Festival Theater for New Plays. His plays include: Burkie, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grille, Minor Demons, Moon Over The Brewery, The Champagne Charlie Stakes, Coyote on a Fence, Desperate Affection, and Belmont Avenue Social Club. His TV/film credits include Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, and the Ira Einhorn mini-series Hunt for the Unicorn, which aired this past year on NBC-TV. Graham has won several awards from the Pew Foundation, the Theater Association of Pennsylvania, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Princess Grace Foundation.

According to Goldman will be appearing at the Florida Stage through June 17, 2007. The theater is located in Plaza del Mar, at 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan. The Florida Stage is a professional theater, with extensive programs for young artists, hiring Equity and Non-Equity performers from across the United States. The Florida Stage is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the League of Resident Theatres, the Florida Professional Theatre Association, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the National New Play Network. Performance days/times are normally Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM; and Sundays at 7:00 PM. Tickets and other information may be obtained by calling the box office at (561) 585-3433 or (800) 514-3837, or on line at

Jeremiah Collins: Andrew Rasmussen*
Gavin Miller: Stephen Schnetzer*
Melanie Miller: Laura Turnbull*

Director: Louis Tyrell+
Choreographer: Jeremy Benton*
Set Design/Lighting Design: Richard Crowell
Sound Design: Matt Kelly
Costume Design: Morgan Lane-Tanner
Production Stage Manager: James Danford*

* Designates member of Actors' Equity Association: the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

+ Designates member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Photo: Susan Lerner Photography

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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