'The Curious Savage' visits Signal Mountain Playhouse - Feb. 7-22

'The Curious Savage' visits Signal Mountain Playhouse - Feb. 7-22

February 6th, 2014 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

Patti Gross, left, as sanatorium resident Mrs. Paddy, confers with Lee Abelson, who portrays Dr. Emmett.

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IF YOU GO

* What: "The Curious Savage."

* When: 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Feb. 7-8, 14-15, 21-22.

* Where: Mountain Arts Community Center, 809 Kentucky Ave., Signal Mountain.

* Admission: $14 (cash only; no credit cards).

* Phone: 423-886-1959.

* Website: www.smph.org.

Just who's crazy and who's not?

In "The Curious Savage," the Signal Mountain Playhouse production that opens at the Mountain Arts Community Center on Friday, Feb. 7, residence at a sanatorium is no guarantee of which is which.

Ethel P. Savage has been placed in the institution by her three grown stepchildren, who want to "bring her to her senses" about the $10 million she's been left by her late husband and their father and on which they cannot get their hands.

The comedy, which offers coffee and dessert beforehand, will run through Saturday, Feb. 22.

Once in the sanatorium, Savage feels a kinship to the varied residents, men and women who cannot adjust themselves to life, or so they've been told. They are just the kind of people who could use her money to help them realize their hopes and dreams, as she has always wanted to do for people.

"Each one has a different type of character," playhouse historian Anne Rittenberry says of the personalities in the play. "It adds to the crazy quilt of the scene."

As the play unfolds, the stepchildren continue to bear down, and, eventually, the doctor tells the older woman there is no reason for her to remain in the institution. But she has found a home among her new friends, a situation that sets up the humorous tug-of-war that consumes the remainder of the show.

By the end, Rittenberry says, the audience sees that "people in the sanatorium have real value. And the family members are really wacked up."

The cast includes playhouse regulars such as Rob Inman, Patti Gross and Lee Abelson, plus Lisa Beeching and Cindy Procious, who were in 2013's winter production "The Red Velvet Cake War," plus others who are making their debut at the theater.

A rubber chicken, which has appeared in every show for the last 30 years, also has a cameo.

The play is directed by David Wood.

"The Curious Savage," written by John Patrick, has never been staged by the playhouse, which dates to 1972 and has offered winter and summer productions since 1980.

Doors open for dessert and coffee at 6:45 p.m.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts at online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.