all for One’s 2018-2019 season opener is the second world premiere comedy from local playwright and actor Michael Wilhelm. (all for One presented the premiere of his comedy, Turtle Soup, based on the legendary Beast of ’Busco, in 2011.) Michael’s association with afO dates to 2003’s production of I Remember Mama, and he has acted with afO regularly ever since. But the genesis for this play goes back even farther.
Wilhelm explains that the germ of the idea for Bentley came from events he witnessed several decades ago. Some years later, he was inspired to adapt the 1936 screwball comedy classic, My Man Godfrey (which starred Fort Wayne’s own Carole Lombard), for the stage. He decided to update the 80-year-old movie to the present. 1930s high society and debutante balls would become reality television and
“But with a new setting and the elimination of the social satire of the 1930s, I needed to tell a new story,” Wilhelm said. “This is where my original idea, the one I’d been holding onto for so long, came into play. As it turned out, it was a perfect fit.”
When the stars of the fictional reality TV show Living Life with the Carvers are challenged to help out the homeless as a publicity stunt, no one expects they’ll bring a bum home…to be their butler! But that is the least of the surprises in store for business tycoon Drake, his wife Ellen (a facelift junkie), and their three adult children.
Eldest daughter Tasha suspects the worst of this mystery man who she found living in a box, but who cleans up oh-so-well. Her sister Pam is more than a little smitten, and baby brother Simon, a tech genius with a juvenile sense of humor, may just learn some valuable life lessons from the new manservant. Add an obnoxious TV producer, a diligent cop, and a long-suffering housekeeper, and you have the perfect recipe for an evening of hilarious entertainment with a heart.
afO regular Nate Chen stars as Bentley, and the Carvers are played by Kevin Keats, Teresa Bower, Bridget Bogdon, Megan Speith, and Connor Beer. Jennifer Netting, Matt Faley, and Scott Kump round out the cast.
There will be a 30-minute talkback session with the playwright and cast members after the first Sunday matinee (September 23) from 4:30 to 5 p.m.