By Elizabeth Baker; Directed by Jonathan Bank
Produced by Mint Theater Company
Off Broadway, Play Revival
Runs through 3.23.19
The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street
by Linda Buchwald on 2.22.19
Emma Geer, Donald Corren, and Tracy Sallows in The Price of Thomas Scott. Photo by Todd Cerveris.
BOTTOM LINE: The first play in the Mint's "Meet Miss Baker" series is a bit slow, but there is enough to get excited about getting to know this playwright.
My favorite thing about the Mint Theater Company is that it often produces forgotten works by female playwrights. With the Teresa Deevy Project in 2010, artistic director Jonathan Bank resurrected the work of Irish playwright Teresa Deevy. Now he is doing the same for Elizabeth Baker with "Meet Miss Baker," kicking off with her 1913 play The Price of Thomas Scott. It's not a great play, especially compared to other works that the Mint has produced recently, which are often surprisingly relevant to the modern day. This one feels more of its time.
There isn't much to the story. Thomas Scott (Donald Corren) is a draper. His daughter Annie (Emma Geer) is a skilled milliner and fantasizes about going to Paris. His son Leonard (Nick LaMedica) has his own ambitions to get a scholarship. Their father wants to sell the shop, which could help their dreams come true, but when he gets an offer, it's from the Courtney Company, which will turn it into a dance hall, something that goes against the deeply religious Thomas's morals. If that plot makes you want to start humming "Footloose," you're not alone.
There are a lot of characters and most of them are pretty unnecessary. The play is also slow going, even though it's only 90 minutes long. Conversations about morality are not exactly the stuff of riveting drama. That said, dance numbers choreographed by Tracy Bearsley liven things up and the production values are high, as one can always expect from the Mint.
Thomas Scott could easily be an unlikeable character, but Corren makes him sympathetic, whether or not you agree with his viewpoints. Baker clearly knew what she was writing about, coming from a religious family not unlike the Scotts. They considered theaters immoral and she didn't have her first theater-going experience until 1905 when she was almost 30, so it's fascinating that she ended up writing 13 plays. I look forward to seeing more of them.
(The Price of Thomas Scott plays at The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, through March 23, 2019. The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30; and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $65 and are available at telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200. For more information visit minttheater.org.)
The Price of Thomas Scott is by Elizabeth Baker. Directed by Jonathan Bank. Choreography by Tracy Bersley. Set Design by Vicki R. Davis. Costume Design by Hunter Kaczorowski. Lighting Design by Christian Deangelis. Sound Design and Musical Arrangements by Jane Shaw. Stage Manager is Kristi Hess.
The cast is Donald Corren, Tracy Sallows, Emma Geer, Nick LaMedica, Mark Kenneth Smaltz, Jay Russell, Andrew Fallaize, Josh Goulding, Mitch Greenberg, Ayana Workman, and Arielle Yoder.