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Always be selling: 'Glengarry Glen Ross' opens in Springville

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK — The “Glengarry Glen Ross” cast includes Dan Greer as Baylen the cop, Scott Hill as Shelley Levene, Patricia Maxwell as George Aaronow, Rick Manzone as Dave Moss, Matt Boyle as Ricky Roma, Dan Delluomo as John Williamson and Rick Sweet as James Lingk.
SPRINGVILLE — “When you die, you’re gonna regret the things you don’t do.”

Canadian playwright David Mamet was the mastermind behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Glengarry Glen Ross,” which has been performed all over the world, since Mamet set pen to paper, 30 years ago.

The Southtowns Regional Actors Workshop, in association with the Springville Center for the Arts, will present the Mamet piece to the Springville community, in mid-June.

According to cast member Rick Manzone, while table reading together, the members of StRAW continued to return to “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and ultimately decided to bring this play to the local stage.

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is set in a 1980s Chicago real estate sales office. The office’s four salespeople are selling undeveloped Florida land to anyone who will bite.

“There is a lot of lying, conniving and cheating going on,” Manzone said. “Some of the employees are doing so, to survive, and others are trying to get back at the company.”

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of the land developments the characters are attempting to sell.

The play won a Laurence Olivier Award for best new play, a New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for best American play, a Drama Desk Award for outstanding revival of a play and a Tony Award for best revival of a play, among others. It was nominated for a Tony Award for best play, in 1984.

StRAW brought Buffalo director and actor Ronald Leonardi on as director, but not without some persuasion, on the actors’ parts.

“I was very skeptical, at first,” Leonardi said. “When they first called me to direct, I originally turned them down.” Leonardi had previously directed “Glengarry Glen Ross” at Buffalo’s Alt Theatre, in 2011. He has also directed another Mamet play, “American Buffalo.”

Springville’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” won over Leonardi, who said he changed his tune, as he watched the actors’ working together.

“I did not know the group or the talent levels I’d be working with,” he said. “They’ve all worked hard, and it shows.”

A 1992 movie, with the tagline “A story for everyone who works for a living,” starred Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey.

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor in a supporting role, for Pacino. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe.

While Leonardi said he was familiar with the big screen production of “Glengarry Glen Ross” and, although he had directed the play before, he approaches “every group and every play completely differently.”

Springville’s cast is made up of both veteran and amateur actors from Buffalo and Springville.

Manzone plays “the bad guy,” Ed Harris’ character, Dave Moss. “I have been in sales for 15 years, so I can draw on my experiences, for this role,” Manzone said. “My character doesn’t care about how much someone may get hurt. I am just looking out for No. 1.”

Dan Greer of Buffalo is appearing as Baylen the cop. This actor also appeared in the SCA’s production of “Dinner with Friends” and was an extra in the 2010 Keanu Reeves-starring “Henry’s Crime,” which was filmed in Buffalo.

Scott Hill plays Shelley Levene, the part Jack Lemmon filled, in the 1992 movie. Hill, a Springville resident, has acted in other SCA plays and appeared in Deftone Pictures’ “Ombis: Alien Invasion.”

Matt Boyle, who performed in the recent SCA production of “39 Steps,” will play Ricky Roma, Al Pacino’s part. “He is the hotshot of the office,” Manzone joked.

Dan Delluomo of Buffalo will appear as Office Manager John Williamson. “This is his first endeavor and he is doing very well,” Manzone said, about the actor. Of Delluomo, Leonardi said, “I was watching him act, and, although his [acting] resume was empty, he was just fantastic.”

Rick Sweet of Buffalo is playing James Lingk, whom Manzone called “the mark.” While Sweet’s only prior acting experience came in high school, Leonardi said the actor “blew us away, in auditions. The newbies were the first ones off-book,” he added.

Patricia Maxwell, the only woman in the play, is depicting George Aaronow. Maxwell has directed several plays at the SCA and has also appeared in many productions.

The play was written for the time period in which it was created. Because of this, “Glengarry Glen Ross” has strong language, throughout, and is intended for mature audiences only.

“To give a true depiction of that time, we have to use the language,” Manzone said. “That’s the way they talked.”

Leonardi said that his original skepticism about doing the play in Springville stemmed from the fact that he did not believe a production with such strong language was appropriate for a community theater. “But these guys got the tone I wanted to set,” he said. “They are able to handle the profanity so well. I think that’s partly because we talked about it a lot.”

Manzone explained that the licensing does not allow for a single word to be changed. Therefore, as the play was originally written for an all-male cast, Maxwell is referred to as “George,” throughout, while none of the male pronouns are changed.

Leonardi directed a Buffalo production of “Glengarry Glen Ross” with an all-female cast. “We originally asked if we could change pronouns and [Mamet’s] agent said yes. So we posted for auditions,” Leonardi said.

More than 100 women read, for the play. But, after the production was cast, Leonardi was notified that Mamet had denied Leonardi’s request to change the script. “At first, I said, this is awkward,” the director said. “Women will be calling each other by male names.”

But the all-women production sold out every show and “people loved it,” Leonardi said, adding that, in hindsight, he believed Mamet had made a good decision. “I think he got it right.”

Following the Buffalo production, Leonardi discovered that “Glengarry Glen Ross” had been done with an all-female cast once before, in Ireland.

“This time, I didn’t even ask,” Leonardi said, about including a woman in the Springville production.

The play is being put on at the center for the arts’ Carol Mongerson Theatre in Springville. “We integrate the audience,” Manzone said. The actors move through the spectators and come in and out, through the theater’s main entrance.

Manzone and Leonardi both hinted at a surprise element of the play, but that secret will not be revealed, until opening night.

“If you are an adult and are OK with profanity, come see this play,” Leonardi said. “It is one of the best plays ever written. It is very entertaining and fast-paced. You will not fall asleep.”

Manzone described Mamet’s writing as “like a song.” Instead of very scripted speeches, the characters’ lines are interwoven and overlapped, to give the dialogue a realistic feel, according to Leonardi. “In this play, there is never just one person speaking,” he said. “There is so much, right on top of another. It goes very fast. It takes a lot of skill, to say the lines as they’re written, while bringing out the subtext.”

The two-act play will have an intermission, between acts.

“It will keep the audience laughing,” said the director, who could be heard chuckling at his cast members’ lines, during week four of the five-week rehearsal time. “It’s hysterically funny. The laughter comes from the deeply rich characters. These people are disgusting. You wouldn’t bring any of them home, to meet your parents. You can really see the subculture of sales that’s still out there, today.”

Leonardi encouraged interested persons to purchase tickets early, as seating is limited.

The play will open in Springville June 13 – 15. That run will kick off with “Pay what you can with a can,” a SCA tradition. That evening, theatergoers can pay any price, as long as they bring a canned good or nonperishable food item, to donate to Springville area food banks, along with them.

Tickets may be purchased at the SCA box office, located at 37 North Buffalo St. in Springville, by calling the box office at 592-9038 or by visiting www.springvillearts.org.

Because of the mature content, no minors will be admitted, without an adult.

The Springville Journal’s parent company, Metro Group Inc., is a media partner.

The cast will also present “Glengarry Glen Ross” at Buffalo’s Alleyway Theatre on June 21 and 22 at 8:30 p.m. and on June 23 at 2 p.m. That theater is located at 672 Main St. in Buffalo. For more information, call 852-2600.
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