By Patty Fantasia
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia

Comedy Play "Oscar: A Good Man" Inspired by Las Vegas Mayor Debuts at Theatre 7

When Theatre7 opened its doors a few months ago at 1406 South 3rd Street it immediately became a home for the work of local filmmakers where their shorts and features can be screened before audiences. Now owner Derek Stonebarger has expanded the venue’s horizons by featuring an original play Oscar: A Good Man, a comedy inspired by the life and times of the modern day Las Vegas icon, for a limited run starting May 14 through Election Day on June 7 at the downtown location. Stonebarger has teamed up once again with Ryan Eicher, the young actor who stars in his darkly provocative and artistic film “I.M. Caravaggio”, this time reversing roles with Derek playing the lead and Eicher writing and directing. Together with the assistance of a talented cast, they have produced a fresh, funny, original and entertaining piece of theater combining multimedia and movie clips with politics and the nostalgia of Las Vegas history.

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The story, which was written recently during a three month period by Ryan, tells the story of Oscar Goodfella, the son of a Jewish attorney in Chicago who becomes a colorful and controversial trial lawyer before being elected the mayor of Sin City. Along the way he meets and marries his college sweetheart Carolyn, who proves to be the strong, intelligent woman behind the fast talking gin drinking mouthpiece for the mob.

Paige Billiot stars as Carolyn and also plays young Oscar’s mother, while Janell Kelley is seen in a variety of parts and Morgan Weaver portrays young Oscar during childhood. Playwright Ryan also joins the cast playing a number of roles including a card dealer who meets the young Goodfellas upon their arrival in Las Vegas and the most notorious of Oscar’s clients. Aside from playing Goodfella, Stonebarger does double duty in the part of his father as well.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show is seeing footage of old Vegas flash across the screen showing the Desert Inn, The Dunes, The Flamingo and many other old hotel casinos along the strip in their heyday creating a historical tribute as part the production. It is a unique way of drawing the audience into that old world while advancing the plot. Watching Goodfella drink his Beefeater Gin while speaking snappy dialogue about the law and his family often brings to mind viewing old 40’s movies with characters like Nick Charles from the old Thin Man movies. It’s a reminder of a different time when smoking and alcohol were widely incorporated into everyday life and considered normal and healthy. Bad guys with criminal records had funny names and usually got what was coming to them. Family was at the top of everyone’s list and heads along with good times and dice often rolled.

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Oscar: A Good Man captures the feel of that era showing how a man with a sharp mind and a smart woman beside him could come to the Wild West and using his skill as a silver tongued devil go from being a poor struggling law student to a beloved mayor despite his proclivity for liquor and gambling.

A particularly clever use of multimedia used at the cozy space comes near the end of the play when Oscar is out in the street having a comical altercation with a woman who has been his arch rival for years. On the screen they have this entertaining donnybrook, before Oscars pull away to run off and meet his wife. In the clip he crosses the street, opens the door and then at the back of the theatre Stonebarger appears coming up the aisle to join Carolyn at the podium on stage. Enjoyable moments like these allow the audience to feel like part of the scene watching the hilarity created by the actors in a very creative way that takes advantage of the theatre’s “live” environment.

For more information on OSCAR: A Good Man or to buy advanced tickets, visit http://www.theatre7lv.com/ or call 702-568-9663. Tickets are $12.50 or $17 in advance and $15 or $20 at the door.


Schedule:

Thursday, May 26th: 7pm
Friday, May 27th: 7pm
Saturday, May 28th: 7pm
Sunday, May 29th: 2:30pm
Sunday, May 29th: 7pm
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Saturday, June 4th: 7pm (Final Weekend!)
Sunday, June 5th: 2:30pm
Sunday, June 5th: 7pm
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Monday, June 6th: 7pm (Bonus Performance!)
Tuesday, June 7th: 7pm (Election Day - Final Performance!)