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East Ridge spring play pokes fun at Hollywood

Studio head Herman Glagauer (McCrossen Schiller) pitches a fit on the set of a movie in the comedy “Once in a Lifetime” at East Ridge High School.From left are cameraman Joey Engh, actress Susan Walker (Abby Feuer) and producer George Lewis (Quinton Walker). William Loeffler/RiverTown Multimedia.1 / 3
Temperamental German director Rudolph Kammerling (Tony May, left) is driven crazy dealing with clueless producer George Lewis (Quinton Walker) on the film set in Once in a Lifetime. The 1930s Hollywood satire opens Friday at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. William Loeffler/RiverTown Multimedia.2 / 3
Studio page Gabby Franus (left) speaks to anxious starlets on a Hollywood soundstage in the comedy “Once in a Lifetime” at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. Waiting for a wedding scene to shoot are bridesmaids Marin Elliot, Lily O'Connell, Petra Walsh, Maggie Barringer, Anya Steffel and Meghan Horan (from left). William Loeffler/RiverTown Multimedia.3 / 3

If you go:

East Ridge High School presents “Once in a Lifetime" 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 5-6, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 7. More information can be found at http://theloftstage.org.

Ditzy starlets and dim bulb actors, temperamental directors and dictatorial studio heads.

If you guessed Hollywood, congrats; you get a producer’s credit.

In the 1930s, the playwriting duo Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman were Broadway stalwarts who saw Tinseltown as a corrupter of talent. They wrote “Once in a Lifetime” as a jab at their West Coast rivals.

Longtime director Marcie Berglund of Cottage Grove saw a production of the good-natured show biz satire and decided it would be a good fit as the spring play at East Ridge High School.

“I really liked the play,” she said. “It has a lot of characters in it so we could make use of a lot of kids in the show. We try to find play at least 12. This is a cast of about 20.”

The play is set during the end of the silent film era in Hollywood. Talkies were taking over, and killing the careers of many stars who looked divine on film but whose speaking voice sounded like a parrot gargling glass.

“Some of these famous actors and actresses had horrible voices,” Berglund said.

This problem represents an opportunity for three down and out vaudevillians on the East Coast. They travel west with a new song and dance act, in which they claim to be elocution coaches who can help panicked silent film stars save their careers.

“They decide to come out and act as professional linguists from England,” Berglund said.

In no time at all, they fail their way to success. The dumbest of the three, George Lewis (Quinton Walker) inadvertently impresses the head of Glogauer Studios, the despotic Herman Glogauer (McCrossen Schiller). George becomes a producer and gets to make his own movie.

As the playwrights themselves might have remarked: only in Hollywood. 

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

(651) 459-3435
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