‘Social Security’ takes center stage
Comedy has weekend exclusivity at Yorkville theater during month
YORKVILLE — The premise of the Follies Theatre’s new comedy, “Social Security,” seems straight-forward enough: An overbearing, judgemental, and ill-tempered mother moves in with her daughter and son-in-law, turning their lives completely upside down. However, the twist to this show, according to producer Don Grant Zellmer, is in the telling. “We don’t even meet the mother until the end of the first act,” he explained. “Everything up to her arrival (accompanied by the theme from “Jaws”) is setup in a very smart, funny, and unpredictable way.”
The unusual structure is due, according to the producers, to the fact that “Social Security” was written by screenwriter Andrew Bergman, the creator of “Blazing Saddles” and “Soapdish,” and is his only venture in playwriting for the live theatre.
“It was a difficult show for all of us to memorize,” said Zellmer, who also plays David in the production, “because it is, indeed, written almost like a screenplay. The action jumps from one couple to the next, there are fast-flying zingers and quips, and the back-and-forth verbal sparring really gives it a film or an elaborate sitcom feel.”
Bergman was dubbed by New York Magazine as “The Unknown King of Comedy.” Bergman’s credits also include four novels, and the sceenplays to “It Could Happen To You,” “Honeymoon in Vegas” and “Striptease,” among others. He has produced and directed films he has written as well.
The story of “Social Security” is set in the Upper East Side apartment of successful art dealers David and Barbara Kahn (Zellmer and Morris’ Debbie Torri), who live a fast-paced life filled with famous artists and upscale parties. Barbara’s overbearing and tactless sister, Trudy (Leslie White) and her henpecked husband, Martin (T.J. Lamps) arrive to discuss their out-of-control daughter, who is away at college, and living with two men. They drop the bomb that Sophie (Sharon Cuneo), who has lived with them on Long Island, must now take up residence with the Kahns as they depart to straighten out their daughter. From that point on, the Kahns lifestyle is totally changed by Sophie, with her bad hearing, bad hip, and bad attitude. However, all changes with the arrival of elderly world-famous artist, Maurice Koenig (Dan Rosier). The twists and turns continue to to turn this comedy gem into a laugh-filled and outrageous “slice of life” show.
“Social Security” is the second main stage show at the Follies, and the first non-musical.
“Response has been great to this type of show,” said producer Dr. David A. Kuester, “so we are considering more comedies for upcoming seasons.
“Social Security” opened mid-April, and has shared the Follies stage with comedy improv. Starting in May, improv will go on haitus and “Social Security” will take over the entire weekend slots, playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The limited engagement runs through May 27.
Reservations can be made by calling the Follies Theatre Box Office at (630) 385-2535. Visit the theatre’s website at www.folliestheatre.com for more information.