BOTTINEAU -- Mel Edison had it all. At 47 he was an executive in a big advertising firm. Mel, played by Paul Schuster, and his wife, Edna, portrayed by Lori Erickson, had a great new apartment on Second Avenue in New York City.
As the Bottineau Community Theater opens "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" Friday through Sunday, however, cracks are appearing in Mel's charmed life.
The wonderful apartment has flaws: Paper-thin walls, neighbors who are stewardesses who entertain hockey teams, and Mel's toilet doesn't flush. Security at the apartment isn't so hot either thieves break in and he loses 11 suits and his scotch.
Submitted Photo - - The cast of the Bottineau Community Theater production of “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” includes, from left, Nicole Bunn, Deb Williams (seated), Kim Schoenborn, Jim Borkowski, Lori Erickson (seated) and Paul Schuster.
The loss of Mel's job seems like the final straw. When he finally admits his situation to Edna, she gets a job.
"Mel is well into a mid-life crisis or what we would have called a nervous breakdown in 1972 when the play is set," director Tim Davis said.
Then playwright Neil Simon brings in the big help: Mel's four older siblings come to help their baby brother.
There is older brother Harry, played by Jim Borkowski, and sisters Jessie (the tearful one), played by Nicole Bunn, Pauline, portrayed by Kim Schoenborn, and Pearl, played by Deb Williams.
Mel's family clashes with Edna. In fact, their last visit was nine years ago. But they are determined to help, if only they could decide how. Medical help is an option, but that's expensive, and Mel and Edna have some unconventional ideas of their own.
"'Prisoner' was a fun play to do about 30 years ago," Davis said, "when Paula Lindekugel-Willis, now of Minot, and I played Edna and Mel in a dinner theater at the Norway House in Bottineau." He predicts the current rendition will be just as enjoyable.
"'The Prisoner of Second Avenue' is not slapstick comedy," the director said, "But it is sure to be 90 minutes of good fun."
He said much effort has gone into keeping costumes and set in the early 1970 time period.
Tickets are $10. Reservations are required by calling 228-2478. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. at Bottineau's Davis Playhouse, with desserts to be served at 6:45 p.m.