About 25 years ago, a young thespian named Tim Dietlein read a 1965 comedy called Here Lies Jeremy Troy and said to himself, “That’s a show I’d like to do someday.”  Now, in 2009, Dietlein’s dream has come true in a laugh-out-loud hilarious production of playwright Jack Sharkey’s “forgotten gem.” 

Terrifically directed by Dietlein (owner-producer of the 63-year-old Glendale Centre Theatre), Here Lies Jeremy Troy is the farcical tale of a happily married law clerk with a deep, dark secret in his closet.  On the eve of achieving full partnership in the firm where he’s worked the past seven long, hard years, an unexpected visit from former classmate Charlie Bickle reveals the long hidden truth that Jeremy never graduated from law school. No, wait a minute. He never even attended law school.  In fact, Jeremy never even attended college at all.

While working as a clerk in the registrar’s office of a large university, young Jeremy happened to meet a beautiful co-ed named Kathryn. When Kathryn told him that she was “just wild about lawyers,” Jeremy “got at the files, filled out a registration card for the five previous years in my name, made up classes, courses, attendance, marks—” and soon found himself at the graduation ceremony taking top honors as first in his class.  “You should have heard the applause when I ascended to the podium for my diploma,” Jeremy tells Charlie.  “The governor was there. He shook my hand.”

With his boss coming over for dinner tonight with a likely partnership offer, Jeremy is none too pleased to learn that starving-artist Charlie has plans to crash at his house for as long as Jeremy and Kathryn will have him, and since Charlie’s stay with former classmate Henry Schmidlap lasted from 1962 to 1964, his sojourn at the Troys could be a long one indeed. Jeremy has no choice but to accede to Charlie’s wishes, at least until he’s gotten his partnership.

In short order, Charlie has phoned the Left Bank Modeling Academy (under Jeremy’s name) and ordered an artist’s model to come out to the Troys’ house and pose for him.

When the model, a statuesque blonde beauty named Tina Winslow, arrives for her assignment, she informs Kathryn that that Jeremy has hired her at $5/hour “whether he uses me or not.” When Kathryn asks for clarification, Tina explains that this is “not as much as the other girls get, but that’s because I’m an amateur.”  Since Tina has been removing her stockings during this explanation, Kathryn naturally arrives at you know what conclusion, and following a confrontation with Jeremy which only makes her surer that her husband is a cheat and a louse, Kathryn is out the door.

With Jeremy’s boss Mr. Ivorsen due to arrive for dinner at 7:00, there’s only one solution and that’s for would-be actress Tina to pose … as Jeremy’s wife!  And this is only the beginning of a night filled with lies, impersonations, some very bad cooking, and a blizzard which leaves everyone stranded and forced to spend the night under one roof.

Here Lies Jeremy Troy had its world premiere in 1965 at the Lakewood Theatre in Skowhegan, Maine, in a production which starred a pair of then popular TV/film actors.  TV’s Sugarfoot and frequent Elvis costar Will Hutchins was Jeremy and Darren McGavin, then famous as TV’s Mike Hammer, was Charlie.  GCT’s production has the very busy TV/film actor and 90s Matlock regular Daniel Roebuck playing Jeremy and a pair Equity actors (Kelly Flynn and JJ Rodgers) as Charlie and Tina, with the cast completed by theater vets Megan Blakeley (Kathryn) and Mario Di Gregorio (Mr. Ivorson). That is to say, GCT’s is a Class A production indeed.   

And wow is it funny!

Double entendres, musical beds, and multiple cases of mistaken identity are only a few of the complications which make these 24 hours the most frantic and frenzied of Jeremy Troy’s life.

The cast assembled by director Dietlein couldn’t be better, and though some may be a decade older than the characters they play, their performances are so comically perfect that any age discrepancy is easily forgotten.   

As Jeremy, Roebuck proves himself a master of comic timing in a role that could easily have been “overplayed.” His Jeremy is ingratiating, earnest, and such a whiz at lying that it’s no wonder he’s been successful in the law/lie business.  Roebuck has great chemistry with the charming Blakeley, who makes it easy to see why Jeremy would go to such lengths just to have someone like Kathryn as his wife.  Flynn nails every laugh as Charlie Bickle, and somehow gets you rooting for the conniving freeloader even as you gasp at his nerve.  Di Gregorio is a dynamo as boss Sven Ivorsen, and every bit as funny as his castmates.  Finally, there is scene stealer Rodgers’ absolutely captivating work as Tina. Whether innocently removing her stockings, or putting on a deliberately thick as molasses Southern drawl as the “fake” Kathryn, or proudly serving the most god-awful dinner you’ve ever seen people attempt to eat, or cavorting around wrapped only in a sheet, the vivacious Rodgers is a non-stop delight.

Dietlein shares credit for his cast’s terrific work, timing, and slapstick expertise, as well as for designing a set which puts the GTC’s “in the round” audience right in the Troys’ two-story living room.  Dietlein also designed the show’s effective lighting.  As she did in Barefoot In The Park, Angela Wood of The Costume Shoppe has picked out some nostalgically 60s clothes for the cast.

It took Tim Dietlein 25 years to bring Here Lies Jeremy Troy to the stage, but the end result is a production he and his cast can be proud of.  As wild and wacky as Jeremy’s story is, Dietlein and company somehow manage to make it surprisingly credible. GTC audiences are guaranteed a fine time indeed on this rollercoaster ride of a comedy treat.

Glendale Centre Theatre, 324 N. Orange St., Glendale.

–Steven Stanley
April 9, 2009
                                                                                         Photos: Tim Dietlein

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