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'The Money Box' pays off at Loyola

'Money Box' the musical from New Orleans native Ricky Graham continues its run this weekend.

The "Money Box," contrary to rumor, is not about Becky Allen shaking her moneymaker.

It's an original, 1960s doo-wop N'Awlins musical comedy adaptation of Moliere's "The Miser," written by Ricky Graham, Sean Patterson and Jefferson Turner. The play continues this weekend at Loyola University.

And it is not only the lively, laugh-filled entertainment we expect from Mr. Graham, it's a damn good, professional adaptation of "The Miser" as well. 

The action has been transplanted into a seedy, second-rate New Orleans night spot in 1963, run by uncouth proprietor Harpagon, who's just this side of a gangster -- perhaps  a nephew in "The Familia" who hasn't done so well. Maybe that's why he's cheap to the point of money-madness and doesn't trust banks, keeping his fortune hidden somewhere on the premises.

Book writers and lyricists Graham and Patterson have kept all of Moliere's mixed-up romantic relationships, adding inventive touches of their own. Turner's music reliably summons the era's catchy pop radio tunes. (The "Gimme, Gimme Shimmy," for instance.) The lyrics -- when they can be clearly understood -- have some very clever rhyming schemes and vernacular jokes imbedded in them. (Cheat out front, kids, and "Sell it!" as NORD Theatre director Ty Tracy used to tell Graham.) 

The Loyola student cast has some great stand-outs, including Bobby Cheramie as the harried, hustling Harpagon, Ashley Osborn as the pushy, step-aside-and-let-me-belt Rosalie (Frozine in the play) and Adam Davis as Anselmo, who giddily ties up all the  problematic loose ends in a conga line. Production values (set, lighting and costumes) are all top-notch.

"The Money Box" plays March 14, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. in Marquette Theatre in Marquette Hall, Loyola's main building that faces St. Charles Ave., and March 17 at 2 p.m.

For ticket information or to purchase, click here, or call 865-2074. Tickets are $12 general admission, $8 if you're a senior citizen like me; although I forgot to ask for the senior price when I went! Damn! Still, it's a bargain because you'll be shelling out a lot more when it hits off-Broadway.

"The Money Box"pays off big-time, for both its creators and its audiences.

-- Mahatma Kane Jeeves, NolaVie contributor and New Orleans theater buff