Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

He's Coming Up the Stairs!

Also see John's review of Mack and Mabel

Empire Stage Presents Garet Scott's He's Coming Up The Stairs!. Though set in 1989, the play is a campy send-up of the classic 1948 suspense film noir Sorry, Wrong Number starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.

Sally Howard Winston is the spoiled, bedridden daughter of a millionaire. The telephone is her sole connection with the outside world. One day, while listening to what seems to be a crossed phone connection, she eavesdrops on two men planning a woman's murder. Sally makes several phone calls to no avail, and is unable to reach her husband who is inexplicably late. Then she begins to piece together the mystery. Her marriage to her handsome, undereducated husband, who works for her father, may not be all it seems. To her horror, Sally believes she is the intended victim of a murder at the hands of her own husband.

The Empire Stage space is small and intimate—reminiscent of the Rising Action Theatre. It has a homey feel (some of the seating is actually comprised of living room couches) and the staff is friendly and warm. The single set works as the posh bedroom of the main character, Sally Howard Winston. A cross-dressed Brooks Braselman plays Sally with style and tireless energy. The make-up and costumes enhance the illusion effectively. Some moments are played for higher comedy than others, and Brooks knows exactly when and how to push the envelope and pacing to work the laughs. The volume of monologues he handles is impressive and, make no mistake, the show would fall apart in the hands of a less capable actor. To add to the kitschy feel of the piece, a few circa 1989 songs such as "Delta Dawn" are thrown in the mix. Braselman has a surprisingly good singing voice though the play would work as well without the songs. The rest of the cast fill the smaller roles fairly well. The author Garet Scott makes an enjoyable cameo appearance as Ivana Trump and David R. Gordon, producing partner to Empire Stage, appears as the hunky Jeff Winston. Though this production could try to get by on the gimmick of sheer camp alone, Braselman really does know how to act, and he goes a long way toward making this show entertaining enough to bring you back in for a second look at the offerings of this new Ft. Lauderdale theatre.

He's Coming Up The Stairs appeared July 22 - August 15, 2010. Empire Stage is located at 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It is an artist-driven collective that produces new and existing works tailored to the diverse audiences of Ft. Lauderdale, including the LGBT and Senior communities. It is their goal to offer theatre artists a supportive environment where they can collaborate, take risks, and develop as writers, actors, designers and producers. For tickets and information on Empire Stage, visit or email

Rance/Butler/ Big Red/Harry: Vance Barber
Sally Howard Winston: Brooks Braselman
Davis/Young Sally/Kimba: Emily Shaffer
Ivana/Receptionist: Garet Scott
Jeff Winston/Dick: David R. Gordon

Director: Kevin Thomsen
Scenic Design: Doug Grinn
Lighting Design: Nate Sykes
Costume Design: June Gaeke

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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