To See or Not to See: Red Roses, Green Gold
When you step into the Minetta Lane Theatre, you’re greeted by the Palace Saloon and Mining Company in Cumberland, USA. A drum kit sits center stage, flanked by several other instruments that will shortly be played by the small, but talented cast.
The Salon is run by Jackson Jones (Scott Wakefield), a seasoned con man. In fact, he won it years ago by cheating in a poker game. As we learn from Jackson (he plays the guitar, sings, and explains the ins-and-outs of everything to the audience, breaking the fourth wall), his son Mick (Michael Viruet) is just like he was as a young man—wild and into gambling. Jackson’s daughter, Melinda (Natalie Storrs), is the responsible one who takes care of the business with the help of Glendine (Maggie Hollinbeck), Jackson’s romantic partner.
After a loosing a lot of money in a bet and taking his deceased mother’s wedding ring to pawn, Mick leaves town. He also leaves behind an almost-fiancée Bertha (Debbie Christine Tjong). Jackson decides to pull one last elaborate con to lure his son back to town as the bank is threatening to foreclose on the property. Enmeshed with that storyline are hijinks with the McElroys (the sons of the man Jackson won the Salon from, played by Brian Russell Carey and Michael McCoy Reilly), and a visit from Liam (David Park), a lawyer and suitor for Melinda.
The story is a bit problematic. Overall, it’s a bit too cheesy and almost all the big plot points are predictable. You’re also never quite sure what decade Red Roses, Green Gold takes places in. Is it the early 1900s when mining was huge? Is it the 1960s because of the costuming? It’s hard to tell.
But, while the storytelling needed work, the music that goes along with it is wonderful. Red Roses, Green Gold is all about Grateful Dead’s music. If you, like me, are unfamiliar with the music library of the Grateful Dead, it won’t matter. Most of the songs are interpreted as Americana folk rock, and all of the actors play the instruments needed for each song. Many times, an actor will play multiple instruments which makes the whole thing even more impressive.
And, the actors themselves are entertaining. In what seems to be a trend in theater these days, the cast does greet the audience and mingle with them in their seats before the production begins; they continue to move throughout the audience as the evening goes on. The actors fully embrace their characters and act with an enthusiasm that is contagious.
So, why the show had its flaws, the music and talent of the cast make Red Roses, Green Gold an enjoyable show to see.
Red Roses, Green Gold is at the Minetta Lane Theatre until mid-March 2018. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo Credit: Chad Batka