June 28 2018 11:04 AM

Friday, June 29-Sunday, July 1

Things go hilariously wrong for a New York gangster trying to go legit in the post-Prohibition era in Downeaster Theatre’s production of “Ring Around Rosalie,” which runs until the end of the month.

Kate Willis, artistic director of the Downeaster Theatre, said she read the script by Whitney Ryan Garrity a few years ago and fell in love with it.

“It was a beautiful little lighthearted farce, but you also have to pay attention and keep up because it is really fast,” said Willis.

She purchased the comedy through Eldridge Publishing, but surprisingly the author reached out to her and was interested in the development of the production.

“He was like, ‘Tell me about it and send me pictures.’ It was really awesome to be able to have a dialogue with the playwright, which does not happen often in production,” said Willis.

The process of auditioning and prepping for the show was quite the adventure, with last minute changes and a few people dropping out, said Willis.

“It’s been an adventure putting all of the puzzle pieces together and it worked out beautifully. Our cast has great chemistry and we really enjoy doing the show,” said Willis.

Set in 1933, the story revolves around New York gangster Benny Bellarosa and the series of incidents that happen when he decides to become a banker.

“Prohibition is ending and Benny Bellarosa has made a promise to his mama on her deathbed that he would go legit, so he decides to be a banker,” said Willis.

The play starts the morning of a big meeting with these bankers that will change his life, but start happening to him that ruin his day, continued Willis.

“His daughter announces that she is pregnant, so he needs to find a husband for his daughter, while his accountant comes in and says that he is stealing from him because he wants to marry his daughter,” said Willis. “Benny thinks, all is right with the world, but the accountant was talking about a different girl who lied and said that she was his daughter leaving him still short of a husband.”

Add his wife, a nun, his tailor, his unhelpful assistants, and a maid who is set to marry to this concoction and the result is a really fun and lighthearted comedy, said Willis.

Willis was visibly excited about three black bags, which add to the confusion and hilarity of the events.

“There is a black bag that keeps changing hands and there are three different bags with three different things in them that contribute to the hilarity of the script. It’s kind of like a mistaken identity with bags,” said Willis.

She quickly added that there are mistaken identities with people as well.

The comedy is set in the 30s but Willis said the relationships portrayed are very relatable to the present day and age.

“There are things in the script which I feel translate to the modern era, like a parent’s relationship with their children. Even if they lie to you, you are going to love them,” said Willis.

Willis wanted the community to know that everyone is welcome to participate and they are open to people who are interested in volunteering to get started, even if they have no experience with theatre.

“Theatre is a family and we want our community to be a part of our family,” said Willis.


$7 to $15 Friday, June 29, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 30, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, July 1, 2 p.m. The Downeaster

Theatre 1120 N. Pennsylvania

Ave., Lansing www.thedowneastertheatre.com (517) 763-8045