Hit and Run Productions
in association with
Aching Dogs Theater
You’ll Be Happy When I’m Dead
by Bill Rutkoski
June 8 through June 19, 2011
Crowne Theater of the Producers Club, 358 W. 44th Street NYC
Director & Sound Designer DON CREEDON
Producing Artistic Director of Aching Dogs Theatre PAMELA SCOTT
Director of Hit & Run Productions, Inc. ARI TAUB
Lighting Design MEGAN L. PETI
Lighting and Sound Technician ROSEMARIE DESAPIO
Stage Manager YUDELKA HEYER
House Manager JESSICA FONTAINE
Publicity SCOTTI RHODES
Dorothy – Nina Rochelle
Bob – Bill Rutkoski
Jimmy – Mike Rutkoski
Sunny – Joan Porter
Karen – Pamela Scott
You’ll Be Happy When I’m Dead presents the sort of family dynamic that most of us can relate to on one level or another, but could only wish provided fodder for humor. This is a story we have seen in many different iterations before, and this particular outing is playwright and actor Bill Rutkoski’s take on the familiar aging-parent-becomes-a-challenge-to-adult-children plot.
In this case, the parent is the widowed Dorothy, who is periodically visited by two of her sons, Bob and Jimmy, who take her to medical appointments and attempt to see to her well being while trying to overcome ongoing family conflicts and the inevitability of physical deterioration due to chronic illness. Doesn’t sound like it would be funny, but it is at the most successful points in the play, mainly due to the talents of Nina Rochelle, who plays Dorothy, and Joan Porter, as sister Sunny. As written, the scenes with Sunny do not quite mesh with the rest of the play, and are almost extraneous to the plot, which is unfortunate, because they do provide some witty repartee. Dorothy dancing and singing injects some liveliness too. The interactions between Dorothy and eldest son Bob have some juice, mainly due to the fallback position of Dorothy as overbearing, meddling and even vitriolic mom, but the dialogue between the brothers has the feel of eavesdropping on mundane conversation, where the topics do not stray much from what is in the freezer that can be cooked for dinner, and favorite scenes from "Planet of the Apes".
Overall, You’ll Be Happy When I’m Dead does not cover any new ground, but does fulfill the Aching Dogs Theater function of showcasing the talents of its members. The performance I attended was on a brutally hot day in New York City, but the house was full, and the laughs from the crowd did not stop - testament to the fact that there is value for an audience in seeing something familiar that aims to please.
- Kessa De Santis -