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'Glengarry Glen Ross' opens March 16 at Corn Stock

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When David Mamet wrote the award winning drama "Glengarry Glen Ross" in the early 1980s, he depicted the corporate struggles ongoing at the time, an often-cutthroat existence as the nation struggles with economic woes.

The play, which won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for drama in 1984, mirrors current times as well, which is one reason Renee Boesch asked to direct it at Corn Stock Theatre's Winter Playhouse.

(Photo by Paul Gordon) David Cook, left, portraying Roma in the upcoming Corn Stock Theatre production of "Glengary Glen Ross," makes a point while trying to sell property to Lingk, portrayed by Charles Brown, during a recent rehearsal at the Winter Playhouse. The show, directed by Renee Boesch, opens March 16."So much in this play rings true today with what corporate America expects of people if they want to survive. It's a great piece, an important piece," Boesch said.

"Glengarry Glen Ross" opens Friday, March 16 for a five-show run at the Winter Playhouse in Upper Bradley Park. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on March 16, 17, 23 and 24 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 18.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students, but parents are cautioned that the language is rough throughout the two-act play. Tickets can be reserved by calling 676-2196 or they can be purchased at the door.

"Glengarry Glen Ross" is about four real estate salesmen trying to unload property in two real estate developments known as Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. They are told by their superiors that the land must be sold and that the top salesmen will be safe, but the bottom pair will be fired. That starts the salesmen on a path of underhanded and often dishonest and illegal methods to make sales or get the best leads.

Act one sets up the challenge and the reaction by the salesmen, while act two lays it all on the line. "Act two takes off and runs like a freight train," Boesch said recently as the Corn Stock version began winding down rehearsals. "This cast just makes it go and does a wonderful job showing that these characters are affected by the kind of oppression we still see running rampant in corporate America today. That makes this play still very relevant today.(Photo by Paul Gordon) Doug Day, left, portraying Shelley Levene in the upcoming Corn Stock Theatre production of "Glengarry Glen Ross," discusses a real estate deal with Roma, portrayed by David Cook, during a recent rehearsal at the Winter Playhouse.

"A good example of that is when we see Levene's desperation to be on top and save his job cause him to do something he never would do otherwise," she said.

Boesch kept the show's timeframe in 1984 with the dialogue, "but Glengarry really has its own time and space the way it mirrors what happens today."

Boesch said she submitted "Glengarry Glen Ross" to Corn Stock because she has long wanted to direct it. "I always wanted to sink my teeth into this show because it is one of the most difficult pieces an actor can do. I knew there was a group of very talented men in Peoria who are 35 and older who seemed to always be vying for the same dramatic roles. So I thought why not do this show, with its dramatic roles, and put some of those guys together?"

This is Boesch's directorial debut at Corn Stock, but her cast is made up of veterans of Peoria area stages.

(Photo by Paul Gordon) Clifford Clark portrays Moss in the upcoming Corn Stock Theatre production of "Glen Garry Glen Ross," which opens March 16.

"This cast is another example of what a really awesome ensemble can do with a strong play," she said.

Her cast is Doug Day as Shelley Levene, David Cook as Roma, Clifford Clark as Moss, Clark Rians as Aaronow, Will Loftus as Williamson, Charlie Brown as Lingk and Frank Zammuto as Baylen.

 

For the role of Williamson, the office manager, Boesch went with a younger actor because she liked the dynamic of the older, grizzled salesmen dealing with somebody freshly out of college who is just starting to experience the clash between the white collar and blue collar mentalities.

 

"I see him as part of that young breed that comes out of college feeling somehow entitled, only to be knocked back when they find the struggle that exists in the corporate world," she said.

 

"Glengarry Glen Ross" was put on film in 1992, with Jack Lemmon as Levene, Al Pacino as Roma and Kevin Spacey as Williamson. Others in the film were Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Jonathan Pryce.

Paul Gordon is editor of The Peorian. He can be reached at 692-7880 or editor@thepeorian.com

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).