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Jenny Strassburg as Kate Sullivan, left, and Oldcastle newcomer Paul Romero as Larry Garfinkle perform in “Other People’s Money,” opening tomorrow night at the Oldcastle Theatre in downtown Bennington. (Peter Crabtree)
Jenny Strassburg as Kate Sullivan, left, and Oldcastle newcomer Paul Romero as Larry Garfinkle perform in “Other People’s Money,” opening
Jenny Strassburg as Kate Sullivan, left, and Oldcastle newcomer Paul Romero as Larry Garfinkle perform in “Other People’s Money,” opening tomorrow night at the Oldcastle Theatre in downtown Bennington. (Peter Crabtree)
Thursday June 20, 2013

BENNINGTON -- Just like money itself, the newest show at Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington is going to divide some people. "Other People's Money," by Jerry Sterner, is the story of war in the American marketplace. The play centers around a charismatic Wall Street investor, Lawrence Garfinkle, with a laissez-faire attitude. Garfinkle buys controlling stock in businesses and then tears them apart to make money. But when he turns his sights on the New England Wire and Cable, and the business' owner Andrew Jorgenson, things start to get complicated.

"(The play) was written in the ‘80s, which is kind of remarkable because it is so current," director Eric Peterson said. "It brings up some of the issues that were in the last presidential campaign for instance There's a line in the play, the lawyer says to Garfinkle that ‘some laws will be passed and in 10 years, what you're doing won't be possible.' Well, it's 25 years later and it's still happening."

The play appealed to Peterson for a number of reasons, and he had worked on getting together the perfect cast for it for some time. And while he had considered another actor years ago for the role of the handsome and powerful Garfinkle, Peterson settled on Oldcastle newcomer Paul Romero.

"It's very important that he be a very large human being, and some companies have padded an actor," Peterson said. "And you can always tell. Paul is charismatic and attractive and just the ideal person."

Romero makes his Oldcastle debut with "Money," but this is the second time the actor, who stands at over 6 feet tall and weighs over 300 pounds, has portrayed the role of Garfinkle, his favorite contemporary character to play.

"They're great characters, they're very rich, and they have nice backstories It's a very complex play, and there's some humor in it too," Peterson said. "I like plays, and this is one of them, that you leave the theater thinking about the play and you're still thinking about the play a day or two later."

One of the things that Peterson looks for in a play is how high the stakes are; low-stakes plots tend to be less interesting, while plays like "Money" cause the audience to invest in the characters and really care about the outcome.

"There are a lot of competing interests in the piece and everybody has (high stakes)," Peterson said. "It means jobs, it means, money, it means a way of life, it means values, it means principles, things that people care about. They're not just competing interests they're competing principles I think everybody in his or her walk of life can identify with what's happening in the play and people will choose sides."

Lifestyles come under attack as well. They play in part becomes a struggle between the fast and slow approaches to the world, an issue that comes up time and time again in American society.

"The corporate raider is interested in profit and really fast profit. Whereas the manufacturer is interested more in the long-term, what will the company be in five years, 10 years from now? So it sets up an interesting dynamic about what kind of companies we want to have, what that will do to the country and what kind of country we want to have," Peterson said.

"Unabashed capitalism can be cruel, because there are winners and losers. Jorgenson is trying to find a way for there not to be losers, so the 1,200 people who work there can keep their jobs and everybody else can still make money."

The cast

Paul Romero -- as Larry Garfinkle -- Romero has worked with regional theatres across the country, in television and film. Credits include work at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. the Huntington Theatre in Boston, Westerly Shakespeare in the Park, MCC and the Ark Theater, both in NYC. Television credits include "Law and Order," "All My Children" and "Guiding Light," as well as sketch appearances on Conan O'Brien and David Letterman's late-night shows. This is his first show at Oldcastle.

Philip A. Lance -- as Andrew Jorgenson -- Lance has appeared regularly with Oldcastle Theatre Company for 35 years in a wide variety of roles. His favorites include Walter in "The Price," Joe Keller in "All My Sons," Greg in "Sylvia," and Harry Brock in "Born Yesterday." He is also a playwright, and has working at the New York State Writers Institute with such authors as Horton Foote, William Kennedy, and Bill C. Davis. His play, "Well Respected Man," received its first public reading at OTC last summer.

Paula Mann - as Bea Sullivan -- Audiences may remember Mann from her performances at Oldcastle, including roles in "Rembrandt's Gift," "Third" and" A Body of Water." Mann has performed major roles in regional theatres around the country, including The Barter Theatre, Delaware Theater Company, Playwright's Horizons and the Dorset Theatre Festival, garnering Best Actress Awards for her work. She is currently the Director of the Theater Program at Green Mountain College.

Richard Howe -- as William Coles -- Howe is a long-standing regular at Oldcastle, having appeared in over 100 productions, and he is also the Associate Artistic Director. He has appeared in "Judevine," "Greater Tuna," "Redwood Curtain," and many other productions. In 2006 he won Buffalo's Katherine Cornell Award for his performance in "Juno and the Paycock" at the Irish Classical Theatre. He has also appeared at Sierra Rep (California) in "The Foreigner" and "She Loves Me." Howe has also designed numerous sets for Oldcastle.

Jenny Strassburg -- as Kate Sullivan -- Strassburg was most recently seen in OTC's production of "A Strange Disappearance of Bees." She has also appeared with OTC in "Third" and "One, Two, Three." Previous credits include Judy in "A Perfect Wedding" (Florida Studio Theatre), Louise in "The Fox on the Fairway" (Gulfshore Playhouse), Lydia in "Pride and Prejudice" (Pioneer Theatre Company), and Sophia Western in "Tom Jones" (Dorset Theatre Festival).

Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 and Thursday, Saturday, Sunday at 2.

Tickets are $37. Student tickets are $10. Buy One Ticket, Get One Free performances are on Saturday, June 22, at 2 p.m., and on Thursday, June 27, at 2 and 8 p.m.. Call 802-447-0564 for tickets.

For more info, visit their website at www.oldcastletheatre.org.