A world premiere comedy, KING SOLOMON’S TREASURE charms audiences at the Whitefire Theatre. Written by Charles Dennis, who also stars in the production, KING SOLOMON’S TREASURE will lead audiences to comedy gold. But the play is so much more, as it twists and turns through the life of Franz Altman, the proprietor of a shop where curios, collectables, and vintage items are for sale – but a spot where memories and dreams are also available.
It’s 1990 in New York City – midtown Manhattan, to be exact. The shop is the repository of junk which has unexpectedly become valuable over time – items like a 30-year-old unopened bottle of Orange Crush and a baseball signed by legendary Jackie Robinson. First opened by proud owner Solomon (hence, the name), the shop now rests in the able and loving hands of Franz Altman (Charles Dennis) – courtesy of Solomon’s widow. But trouble is looming as a major development corporation tries to force him out in order to bring the twenty-first century to his block in the form of a huge steel-and-concrete structure.
Slowly but surely, the conflict is beginning to generate notice. Enough notice, in fact, that Susan Carmichael (Stevie-Jean Placek), a beautiful young reporter for People Magazine, has shown up at the shop to interview Franz Altman, the elderly, but very canny, proprietor. Franz quickly turns out to be a quietly unexpected individual, a man with a history which grabs Susan’s attention – and eventually causes her to ally with the “David and Goliath” hero. And what a tale it is, as Franz journeys from Vienna, where he was born (and analyzed by a certain Sigmund Freud), to Germany, Poland, Israel, and finally the U.S. Franz never forgot the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson imparted to him by his quirky, beloved mother Sonia: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Franz is a man who will never be defeated so long as he can laugh at the world’s inconsistencies – and find a willing girlfriend.
Skillfully helmed by director Ron Orbach, KING SOLOMON’S TREASURE is a fascinating, funny, and sometimes poignant story of one man’s fight to survive and conquer. Kudos to Charles Dennis, who projects every single, emotional nuance of the play – and, at the same time, lets the audience in on the humor inherent in life’s struggles. Stevie-Jean Placek, his colleague and foil, does a yeoman’s job of holding up her end of the bargain with grace and competence. Kudos too to the production team, which assembled the contents of everyone’s attics, basements, and closets to make the set enticing and perfect for the story. This is a must-see production which cannot fail to entertain and enchant – even as chuckles and tears threaten to combine.
KING SOLOMON’S TREASURE runs through May 12, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays only. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, go online.