‘God’s Favorite’ Has Audiences Rolling In The Aisles

By On January 13, 2014

God’s Favorite found favor with Saturday night’s large audience, who punched holes in the SFX smoke with their laughter.  The Saint Francis Stage Company stacked the deck when they chose to do a play by no less than Neil Simon, and slipped in a few more aces by creating a superb set with first-rate lighting, effects and sound. An inspired cast brought the rest of the high cards to the stage and delivered a great performance and a winning hand for the company’s 7th annual production.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Neil Simon loosely bases his Broadway play on the Book of Job. This is the Bible story where Satan bets God that Job, a wealthy man who loves and honors God, will come to curse God if he were to have all his wealth and other blessings taken away from him. God takes the bet. From ancient times, the story of Job has resonated among religious and non-religious alike. And perhaps it is particularly relevant now, as many believers have been caught in their own economic reversals-of-fortune.

The cast of God's Favorite during Act 1 of the performance. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The cast of God’s Favorite during Act 1 of the performance. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

God’s Favorite moves the classic Bible tale to a Long Island mansion in the mid-1970s. Joe Benjamin (JIM ROOPE) is our modern-day Job, a God-fearing, honorable and very successful businessman. He and his affable wife Rose (VICKI CONRAD DLUGOLECKI) have three children under their fancy roof: offbeat teenage twins Ben (GRAYSON DUVALL WITTENBARGER) and Sarah (KATIE ELSAESSER), as well as twenty something, alcoholic son David (CHRIS KENNEY.) Butler Morris (STEPHEN O’HARA) and maid Mady (SHARAIN JONES) round out the household.

One snowy night an unlikely messenger from God, Sidney Lipton (played by noted character actor DANIEL ROEBUCK) arrives and tells Joe that he’s “God’s favorite” and has therefore become the object of a bet between God and Satan. And then the fun kicks into even higher gear.

God's Favorite cast having a family talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

God’s Favorite cast having a family talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Director GEORGE STRATTAN and his cast nail all the humorous notes in Neil Simon’s inventive play, with a special tip of the hat to the hilarious SHARAIN JONES.

St. Francis Stage Company has proven that a church auditorium can become a star on the map for professional-quality theater.

Joe Benjamin ( Jim Rope) talks to his stage wife Rose Benjamin ( Vicki Conrad Dlugolecki). ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Joe Benjamin ( Jim Rope) talks to his stage wife Rose Benjamin ( Vicki Conrad Dlugolecki). ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

God’s Favorite continues with a matinee at 2 pm on January 12 and another round of weekend performances January 17 and 18 at 8 pm.  The location is at St. Francis Xavier Church, 3801 Scott Rd. Burbank, CA 91504.  The ticket price for all evening performances is $15.00 per person.  The ticket price for the matinee performance is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children.   For more information call 818-504-4400.

Joe Benjamin ( Jim Roope) gets a kiss from his stage daughter Sara Benjamin ( Katie Elsaesser). ( Photo  by Ross A. Benson)

Joe Benjamin ( Jim Roope) gets a kiss from his stage daughter Sara Benjamin ( Katie Elsaesser). ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

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