Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Desperation Files? Off-Broadway Show Offering "Satisfaction-or-Your-Money-Back Guarantee"

Everyone has to get creative in this terrible economy, obviously. I mean, what are there, 10 Broadway shows closing in January -- or more, if you count the runs that were advertised as limited in the first place? Or 15, I think I read while we were away? Anyway, even with dire times coming -- and January and February, as always, being terrible months for Broadway and beyond -- the press release I received while I was away for a play called Dust, which stars Richard Masur and Hunter Foster, really took me by surprise. In essence, if you're not "entertained," you can get a money-back guarantee. I mean, wowsa, folks. This is like Ginsu-land, except instead of 50 years you get two days to decide if you had a good time. True, I understand that part of the raison d'etre behind this scheme is to get people like me talking about it, but I also wonder: Is this a good idea or is there an implicit suggestion that the play may not, in the end, be that good? Isn't it a bit like a certain Illinois governor daring a prosecutor to go ahead and indict, or a certain Colorado senator daring the press to follow him so as to confirm his marital fidelity? This sounds like a great subject for Ken Davenport to expound on. I do hope he's not reflexively in support of the idea but will, rather, consider it from the pros the cons.

Here's the text of the email:


The producers of Dust, the new thriller starring Emmy Award nominee Richard Masur (Democracy, “All My Children”) and Tony Award nominee Hunter Foster(Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors) at the Westside Theatre (downstairs) are offering ticket-buyers a satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee. Buy your tickets to Dust and if you are not entertained by the show, mail your tickets within two days after seeing the play, for a full refund including service charge, to Dust-to-Dust Limited Partnership, 311 West 43rd Street, Suite #605, New York, NY 10036.

“Audiences love this show and the producers of Dust want to encourage more audiences to come and see for themselves,” says producer Roger Alan Gindi. “Times are hard and money is tight, but that is no reason for audiences to stay away from live theatre. We hope that our money-back-guarantee will serve as incentive for audiences to come to The Westside Theatre and experience this thrilling new play.”

Dust, by Billy Goda and directed by Scott Zigler, also features Laura E. Campbell, Curtis McClarin and John Schiappa. Presented by Roger Alan Gindi and Cassidy Productions, Dust features a scenic design by Caleb Wertenbaker, costume design by Theresa Squire, lighting design by Charles Foster and sound design by Sharath Patel.

When opening earlier this month, Variety called Dust “a high-wattage production” with “an A-list cast,” while the Associated Press praised “the excellent acting and writing.” WOR Radio’s Dr. Joy Browne calls Dust “great theatre. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s electric. It makes you understand why theatre is so special.”

In their review of the show, The New York Times writes, “Dust begins with a struggle over power and respect. Verbal sparring turns angry, posturing leads to entrenched positions, and out of nothing – out of dust – a grudge match is born. Billy Goda tells his story in short, sharp scenes, each with a clear dramatic idea, and Scott Zigler has directed with a fine feel for pacing. Richard Masur (“Rhoda” and “One Day at a Time”) is a warm, likeable actor – and he and the skilled Hunter Foster (Urinetown) work to make the characters’ psychological contours believable.

Also, I remember Masur for many things other than Rhoda. Like One Day at a Time. There, I'm showing my age. Nyah.

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