Vail Mountain School production of ‘God’s Favorite’ opens Thursday
If You Go ...
What: “God’s Favorite,” a production of Vail Mountain School’s Upper School.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. matinee Sunday.
Where: Vail Mountain School’s Peter Abuisi Auditorium.
More information: Buy tickets at www.vms.edu/tickets.
VAIL — Lots of people know the Old Testament story of Job and his patience, but it took playwright Neil Simon to tell us why Job was patient.
The reason is funny, and to find out you’ll have to watch Vail Mountain School’s production of “God’s Favorite” this weekend. It runs Thursday through Sunday at VMS.
The VMS production falls on the 40th anniversary of Simon’s Broadway debut with this play.
It’s funny, although when it opened in 1974 it was a bit of a departure for Simon, who had given the world plays like “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot In The Grass.” Some humor-impaired New York theater critics didn’t like it. Those theater critics, though, are a lot like talking with a junior high girl about romance: “I want someone just like you,” she says, “but not you.”
“God’s Favorite” is funny and the eight-member cast keeps it that way. It can be a little dark in spots, but it IS based on Job, after all, although very loosely.
Second of six
Greg Jones is the new head of Vail Mountain School’s theater department, and “God’s Favorite” is the second of their six productions this year — which means Job’s got nothing on Jones.
“I wanted the kids to do a well-known contemporary playwright, and Neil Simon is one of my favorites,” Jones said. “At the end of it all, it will make you laugh.”
“God’s Favorite” is set in the 1970s and is mostly about human relationships, sort of ‘70s culture meets “The Royal Tenenbaums.” But since it’s not a musical, you don’t have to suffer through disco music, which was insipid 40 years ago and has not improved with age.
This cast is all from the VMS Upper School, grades 9-12, where they have a theater major track.
“It’s for kids who think they might want to pursue that or something like it,” said James Mill, VMS communications director.
VMS kids pursue all kinds of things, including theater. The eight-person cast includes an elite competitive figure skater, a saxophone player, varsity high school athletes, and skiers and snowboarders on track for the U.S. Ski Team.
“This show is a wonderful representation of how we make available such a wide variety of opportunities, and how teachers like Greg bend over backwards,” Mill said. “Students are not cast into some rigid template that insists you can’t do something like this because you’re because you’re in chemistry or something like that.”
About ‘God’s Favorite’
“God’s Favorite is set in a Long Island mansion. The household consists of a pious, God-fearing tycoon named Joe Benjamin (Sean Weller) and his family: a long-suffering wife, Rose (Georgia Hintz), a prodigal son, David (Julian Nisonoff), a pair of hilariously kooky twins, Ben (Daniel Tierney) and Sarah (Christie Spessard), and the self-righteous maid Mady (Brooke Weller) and the butler Morris (Luke McKeever). One night a messenger from God, Sidney Lipton (Alex Mauro), with a big G on his sweatshirt arrives, and, as in the Biblical story, goes through all manner of temptations to get Joe Benjamin to renounce God. When Joe refuses, he is visited by all the afflictions imaginable. Joe, though, stands firm and the messenger has to admit defeat.
Like we said, why Joe Benjamin remains steadfast and faithful is something you have to learn for yourself.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.
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