As you enter the theater you see a big white sheet covering the stage. Patriotic music is being pumped into the theater to set the mood. As the show is about to start we see the actors appear behind the curtain. They take their places behind the curtain on platforms. Benjamin Franklin appears and starts to talk to the audience, the music stops and we are off!!!
The show starts with Benjamin Franklin and the cast singing a number called “I’M MONEY” . Benjamin starts to speak the Constitution – “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness sounded like a good idea.” We quickly move with Ben to a bar where a hedge fund manager is drunk and watches a strip show. Ben is the voice of reason as the man and the stripper flirt and talk. The man complains of the Rigors of his success. He is a “poor” Wall Street Millionaire. The man gives Ben to the stripper so Ben follows the woman home where we find out that she has a baby and a husband that is a dreamer who has scheme after scheme to make them rich. He sings :TEXAS HOLD’EM” as his latest get rich scheme. As the woman tends to the baby the man runs off with Ben.
He even writes the woman’s name, “JENNY”, on Ben before he leaves as a promise he will return him. He goes to Las Vegas and enters the World Series of Poker and faces off with what seems like a ditzy socialite. She sings: “ DUMB BLONDE” But she turns out to be a M.I.T. graduate and she strips him of all his money so now she takes Ben. At her mansion that is being tended to by her gardener “Jorge” who has dreams of him own. He sings a number called: I’M CHASING A DREAM” She tries to seduce “Jorge” but he resists her but still she does end up tipping “Jorge” with Ben. “Jorge” takes Ben home with him where he runs into his oldest daughter “Jaunita” a future singer/song-writer. At first “Jorge” argues with his daughter about her pipe dreams of making it big but ends up giving her Ben to record one song as a demo of her talent. “Juanita “ records her demo song that sounds like a smash: “HOW DID I FALL SO HIGH”. “Juantia” is a victim of an attempted mugging but the owner of the recording studio saves her and takes her to LUIGI’S RESTAURANT”. “Luigi” sings: “COME TO LUIGI’S”. At the end of the night “Juanita” and the owner of the recording studio who took her out in the first place tips “Luigi” Ben as they leave. Before long enters “Officer GAINES”and he apparently has been shaking down “Luigi” every other week for protection money. So “Luigi” gives Ben to “Officer GAINES” to keep the peace. And this pattern continues throughout the rest of the musical. Ben is transferred from person to person as the story is told and comes to a full turn back to the beginning.
PETER KELLOGG and DAVID FRIEDMAN have crafted a charming musical with a bite of truth. We go through one situation after the other and see things that are good or bad based on the power of money. Dreams or cons are presented with bias yet style. The cast: RALPH BYERS, SANDRA DeNISE, BRENNAN CALDWELL and GEORGE MERRICK are wonderful. They play many different characters and you are never lost or confused about what is going on at any given time. MR. BYERS as Benjamin Franklin follows scene after scene and talks like a Greek Chorus or Shakespearean FOOL able to tell the truth about the situations and he really cuts to the quick. As Ben MR. BYERS is a gem. He turns what could be dry quotes into interesting lessons and comic punch lines. SANDRA DeNISE is also a tour de force. Her vocal abilities are something of an amazement. She plays so many different types of women and sings so many songs it is impressive. MONEY TALKS PUTS SOME CHARMING MESSAGES WHERE OUR MOUTHS ARE AND WE LOVE IT. Please make your way down to the DAVENPORT THEATRE and you will not be disappointed.