If you are interested in an amazing story with dynamic characters and an incredibly talented cast, then head over to The Victory Theatre in Burbank and see “On The Money.” Magnificently written with rich and visceral characters by playwright Kos Kostmayer and extremely well-coordinated and directed by the Victory Theatre’s own Tom Ormeny, the play takes place in one location and revolves around a real issue that everyone watching will be able to understand and relate to. Producer Maria Gobetti, who is also artistic director for the Victory Theatre, assembled a wonderful and very special night for every theatre lover around with this play!
Maria Tomas plays Nancy with such energy and dedication to her character that relating to her financial hardship while being a single mother wll definitely ring true in your own heart. Maria has the ability to move a scene with just the slightest expressions and her abusive boss, along with the support from her co-workers, really showcases her ability to stretch broadly while maintaining a powerful and consistent character.
Hard edged but completely honest Jack is passionately played by Jonathan Kells Phillips. Jonathan’s emotionally growth and frustration was amazing to see as he ever so slowly begins to have doubts about his own morals and convictions. Being a bartender, he gets the flack not only from his boss but also the customers. Jonathan knows how to sharpen his delivery to make you feel exactly what he is feeling as the situations unfold. And he too has a family and debts that are overwhelming his life which makes the chemistry between him and Maria that much more real.
Vincent Guastaferro plays Candy, the boss of this successful restaurant business, with a personality that needs an adjustment or three or four or five. Vincent plays the overbearing, inappropriate and very often cruel boss so convincingly, I wanted to jump on stage and slap him around myself! (Several times too!) I applaud Vincent’s ability to convict to his character that helps make it so easy to dislike him to the point you’re creating your own demise scenarios for him in your own head as you watch it. Bravo Vincent!
Now with every twist in storytelling, and Kos, the playwright, did this very well, you need a character to motivate or make things complicated for everyone else. David Fraioli plays Benny the waiter/host who comes up with a scheme to help all of them out of their debts and financial woes. David, also deep deep in debt himself, knows how to articulate the dark side of everyone in the cast and his nervousness and overall panicked performance only heightens the drama in each scene.
Without giving much of the plot, two outstanding performances came from two restaurant guests - Jeff Kober who is playing an over the top customer T.C. Hopper, who is often creepy and wildly crazy, and Luca Rodrigues playing Marvin, a very strongly accented customer who has some very funny bits and line deliveries that often lightened the extremely intense scenes you will see. Jeff is one of those performers who you just can’t stop watching because his character is literally way ‘out-there’ and who will make you eager to see and hear his next moves. Luca is completely enveloping his role and just having fun with basically an American foreigner trying to figure out how to get a beer. These two are amazing from the moment each of them enter on stage.
What would the play be without your seedy loan shark? Tony Maggio plays Wallace, the man who not only motivates David’s character, but also is the reason all the hardships combine to one objective towards the end. (No spoilers are coming from me.) Tony just knows how to punch those lines and emphasize the menacing and dangerous qualities of his character. I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley!
Other notable and amazingly talented contributions came from the performances of Cara Manuele playing a wildly feisty customer with her equally inebriated partner played by Robert Dominick Jones and Michael Flipowich playing Johnny B, who has a fantastic entrance and exit to the play. All in all, “On The Money” has an amazing and wonderfully talented ensemble cast!
Set and lighting designer D. Martyn Bookwalter did an amazing job creating a realistic restaurant and bar setting with an amazing coordination of authentic props. Director Ormeny took the wonderful set and rather eloquently utilized every aspect of it. “On The Money” is truly a wonderful dramatic play with some visceral scenes and very real characters that will move you, scare you and leave you with yet another perspective on how economic times can affect all of us. I could say so much about the visceral and heartfelt drama, but just go and rush to see this one, you will not be disappointed! Please check them out at www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org.
Pic 001: Maria Tomas, Vincent Guastaferro, David Fraioli, Jonathan Kells Phillips
Pic 002: Maria Tomas, Jeff Kober, Jonathan Kells Phillips, David Fraioli