Review: A Pound In Your Pocket

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The Media, Culture and the Arts department, working with The King's Player's, produced the much anticipated musical A Pound In Your Pocket this last weekend at the East Village’s Fourth Street Theater.  Directed by Misti Wills, the musical ran for four performances and featured a cast of nine: a mix of theater professionals, King’s alumni and current students. The director’s note explains in the play bill that A Pound In Your Pocket was the first collaboration between Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (before they wrote the international success Bye Bye Birdie together). A Pound In Your Pocket is based on the Charles Dickens novel The Old Curiosity Shop, which Dickens hoped would “satirize the 1800’s London social class structure and inspire reform in the treatment of the poor.”

A girl called Small Servant (Abbey Watt, '18) works -- or is enslaved -- in the home of Sampson (Madison Jordan) and Sally Brass (Rachel Kyle, '16); the Brass siblings are lawyers who horribly mistreat Small Servant. Handsome and charming Dick Swiveler (Justin Beard) comes to work for the Brass’ as a law clerk. Seemingly the first person to show Small Servant any amount of kindness, Swiveler treats her as a human being and befriends her.  Miss Sophie Wackles (Dagmar Wetherill, '15), an apparent undeserving heiress to her family’s fortune, provides effective comic relief throughout the piece.

In similar fashion to Dickens’ other work, Wills notes that, “the characters are dark, odd, and wildly funny all at the same time."  The cast did an excellent job in conveying the story through witty dialogue, charming songs and comical dance numbers.  The musical director and pianist, Virginia Pike, sat on stage to provide the show’s music and wordlessly interacted with the characters through comical gestures.

The musical takes place primarily in the Brass’ living room, but also outside on the street, in a local pub and briefly in the aisle. There are no major set changes; instead, lighting redirects the viewers' attention.

A musical filled with humor and love that challenged social class structure, A Pound In Your Pocket was highly anticipated and delivered as such.

CultureJessica Henry