For Email Marketing you can trust

The Price of Thomas Scott


Emma Geer and Nick LaMedica 



                                By Marc Miller


The Mint Theater Company does well by Elizabeth Baker’s antique, but it’s hard not to feel you’re being lectured to.


Elizabeth Baker’s The Price of Thomas Scott is an interesting little antique with a curious morality. The Mint Theater Company’s initial offering in its “Meet Miss Baker” series, the 1913 drama poses large questions about prejudices, convictions, and doing what’s best for one’s family. And it answers them in ways that will fail to satisfy a good part of the audience. Among us theater mavens, one question that’s sometimes asked and never answered to anyone’s satisfaction is: Why are so many plays written from the liberal point of view, and so few from the conservative? Well, here’s one from the latter.


It all takes place in the title character’s drapery showroom, in West London, which, in Vicki R. Davis’s apt design, looks suitably shabby-genteel. Amid the fraying furniture and out-of-tune upright are several fetching, Merry Widow-era ladies’ hats, including a chic black number with a long feather that will be regarded by our title character as shockingly immoral. These, we learn, are the work of his ambitious daughter, Annie (Emma Geer). She’s a young lady who wants something dearly. As do all the Scotts.


Thomas (Donald Corren), an upright citizen in a close-knit community, wants to sell the family business and return with Ellen (Tracy Sallows), his stoic wife, to Tunbridge Wells, the site of their greatest, long-ago happiness. She’d love that, too. Annie would like to escape to Paris and learn more about hat design. And her brother Leonard (Nick LaMedica), 15 and bright, would like to dodge the unappetizing family business and seek a far more promising career in the civil service. All of which takes money.



Emma Geer and Ayana Workman 


A lot of locals keep popping in, too—quite a number for a short, one-act affair. Johnny (Andrew Fallaize), a lodger, is fixated on Annie. The feeling isn’t mutual. His buddy Hartley (Josh Goulding) accompanies him because… well, really for no reason at all, except as a dancing partner during a forbidden waltz among the younger set. Neighbor George (Mark Kenneth Smaltz) discusses local affairs with Thomas, and his daughter May (Ayana Workman) tries to wrest Annie from her highly restricted upbringing and get her out to a dance at the town hall. Lucy (Arielle Voder), the object of local gossip, tries on hats. It’s a full, vibrant community Baker has concocted, albeit one punctuated mostly by small talk. The whole play sits on a low flame; confrontations are brief and underwhelming, and characters don’t change much, except for Annie, who can’t decide whether to side with her father over the central conflict. Until she does.




Mitch Greenberg and Donald Corren                              Photo by Todd Cerveris


That conflict is delivered by Wicksteed (Mitch Greenberg), the far less pious old school chum of the elder Scott. He now works for a developer that specializes in dance halls, and he sees the drapery emporium as an ideal next site—for a dance hall, really?—and will pay Thomas a walloping 500 pounds for it. Cue the principal plot engine: Should Thomas, a fervent churchgoer who’s never been to a dance and regards even theater as the devil’s instrument, sell out? It will benefit his family to no end, and the buyer promises the dance hall won’t even sell liquor. But will Thomas be compromising his principles?


“You may find yourself unsure of what Baker wants you to think at the end of the day,” Jonathan Bank, whose direction is crisp and efficient, writes in his program note. I wasn’t. Baker seems firmly on Thomas’s side, and even Annie comes around to agreeing with him. Ellen weeps at the prospect of having to preserve the dreary family business, but she dries her tears and assures the kids that “your father is a good man.” Baker, whose background was a lot like Annie’s—but, unlike Annie, did eventually make it to theater and dances—clearly is patting her title character on the back for what she thinks is forthright conviction, but comes across in this age as sheer small-mindedness. “Your father is bigoted and overreligious,” the high-living, capitalistic Wicksteed tells Annie, and it’s hard to disagree, but as far as Baker’s concerned, Wicksteed’s the villain.


Some iffy British accents wander the Mint stage, especially among the younger folk, but the actors are largely splendid—Corren, playing a prig, emphasizes his better qualities and keeps us from hating him too much, and Geer is an ideally graceful, winsome young lady. Hunter Kaczorowski’s costumes are both period-accurate and attractive, and you’ll also like Jane Shaw’s musical programming, which runs to such delectable now-rarities as “The Pink Lady Waltz.”


It's a flavorsome slice of life, albeit from a time and place we’re glad we’re not living in. Consider: Dance halls were popping up all over, and movies were increasingly depicting them. Irving Berlin was populating pianos with ragtime and near-ragtime, and Vernon and Irene Castle were convincing the masses that couples dancing together could be fun, sexy, and yet respectable. And Elizabeth Baker? She’d have sent them up the river for it.


Through March 23.

At the Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd St, Manhattan.

For tickets and more information, visit

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes, no intermission.