go to home pageArms and the Man
by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Stephanie Hepburn

Arms and the Man poster

We opened our 1997-1998 season with one of the most popular of Shaw's plays: Arms and the Man. Written in 1894, and described by the author as "An Anti-romantic Comedy", its title was taken from the first line of Dryden's Virgil. It appeared as one of Shaw's "Plays Pleasant" along with Candida, The Man of Destiny and Dick Smith (Petkoff) and Ariane Orenstein (Mrs. Petkoff) - 10 You Never Can Tell. It had been completed in a rush. Miss A. E. F. Horniman had backed a series of plays at the Avenue Theatre in London which was being managed by Shaw's friend, Florence Farr. The first production failed and Shaw finished Arms and the Man in time for it to open after rushed rehearsals, on April 21st, 1894. Hesketh Pearson, in his biography of Shaw, described the opening:

Elizabeth Moritz (Louka) - 05 "....the actors, who could make neither head nor tail of the business, played with anxious seriousness, and were rewarded with a crazy success. The audience laughed immoderately at nearly everything. Unfortunately, the actors, convinced by the laughs that this strange piece must be a farce, began to play for them on the conventional farcical comedy lines; and the first night success was never repeated. Shaw had planned all the laughs unerringly, but only as responses to an earnestly sincere performance."

Doreen Feldman (Raina) - 07The play closed on July 7th that year. We used the revised text from the thirties when Shaw edited and reworked many of his plays. It's a tighter script, better than the 1894 version, even if you do have to pay royalties on it! All of Shaw's delightful cynicism is here: about love, the English, pretension, and of course the military mind, all in a delightful love story. Bluntshli, a Swiss mercenary fighting for the Serbs, is escaping from a defeat by the Bulgarian cavalry when he climbs a drain-pipe to hide in the bedroom of Angus Hepburn (Bluntshli) - 03Raina Petkoff, daughter of Major Paul Petkoff ("the highest rank in the Bulgarian army"). He is exhausted and starving. Raina hides him and feeds him chocolate creams, his own supply that he carries instead of cartridges, being exhausted. She is fascinated by his gentility and sophistication and, the next morning, he is sent safely off disguised in one of Major Petkoff's old jackets. When the war is over, he comes back to return the coat and runs into Major Petkoff whom he has met during an exchange of prisoners. Unfortunately, Raina's fiancé, Major Sergius Saranof also turns up. He was the man who led the cavalry charge that defeated Bluntchli's regiment. Louka, the maid, apparently engaged to Nicola, the manservant, is actually in love with Sergius. But while Raina is in love with the idea of Sergius, Louka is in love with the man. Sergius' love for Raina is also more worship of an ideal than anything practical. Needless to say with all this love flying around, the Shavian wit flies. It is also turned quite ruthlessly onto the military and their ideas of war and glory with Bluntshli being the usual mouthpiece for Shaw. Elizabeth Moritz (Louka), Steve Plaushin (Saranof) - 13a In the end, of course, all works out well; Bluntshli gets Raina, Sergius gets Louka and Nicola gets...well he gets lots of potential customers for the shop he plans to open in Sofia! Angus Hepburn (Bluntshli, Doreen Feldman (Raina) - 04a
Angus Hepburn played the Chocolate Cream Soldier - Captain Bluntshli, a role he had wanted to play since he first saw the play at the Gateway Theatre in Edinburgh back in the mid-sixties. Newcomer to the PRT. Doreen Feldman, a recent graduate from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, played Raina, the young Bulgarian girl into who's room Bluntshli dives to escape the Serbian army. The other PRT newcomers were Dick Smith as Major Paul Petkoff and Robert Shubin as the Russian Officer. Dick may have been new to PRT, but is well known to Westchester audiences for his many musical, comedic and dramatic appearances all over the County. Robert had worked backstage for us during the 1996-1997 season. Ariane Orenstein, who played Catherine Petkoff, appeared as Sally Talley in our very first production (Talley's Folly) and has been a regular ever since. Steve Plaushin who had last appeared with us in our first Paramount production, Hay Fever, returned to play Major Sergius Saranoff. Elizabeth Moritz, who had appeared in Hay Fever, Rumors and 6 Rms Riv Vu played Louka, the 'maid who gets the Major'. Kurt Lauer (Nicola) had first appeared with PRT in Rumors. (Kurt Lauer (Nicola), Elizabeth Moritz (Louka) - 09 Angus Hepburn (Bluntshli), Steve Plaushin (Saranof), Dick Smith (Petkoff) - 16
Bob Vitale joined us as Technical Director of the new season. Because of the usual need to keep sets as simple as possible, we rationaliped the setting. The first act was set in Raina's bedroom with the black curtain closed to allow for Bluntshli's entrance through it. The second and third act sets were combined into a veranda/porch, dispensing with the library which is the normal act three set. As a result, set changes were kept to a minimum and we were able to work with a nicely un-cluttered set. One other change for the season was that we played for two weekends with four performances which, although it meant striking the set between the two weekends, was well worth the effort.

Arms and the Man
by George Bernard Shaw
directed by Stephanie

Cast in order of appearance

Catherine Petkoff...............
Captain Bluntshli................
Russian Officer............
Major Paul Petkoff......................
Marjor Sergius Saranoff................
Doreen Feldman
Ariane Orenstein
Elizabeth Moritz
Angus Hepburn
Robert Shubin
Kurt Lauer
Dick Smith
Steve Plaushin

the setting
Major Petkoff's house somewhere in Bulgaria
about 1885.

Production Crew

Technical Director.................
Stephanie Hepburn
Bob Vitale
Stephanie Vitale
Curtis St. John and
the Paramount Staff

Special thanks to: The Paramount Staff, Gladys Muller, Eunice Cunha, Susan Bond, Helen Zurhellen, Robert Mills, Rene Paglia, Jo-Ann Brody, Joseph Kleinmann, Kim Sparling, Kathy Nicastro.

Floral decoration courtesy of Cold Spring Gardens, Floral Gallery.

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