Seven Keys to Baldpate: Funny Farce

Second Story’s Baldpate spins a tangled web of ever-escalating insanity

Seven Keys to Baldpate, which began in previews on January 24 at Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre, is a dizzy, frenetically funny farce. It runs through February 23 at the UpStage theater.

Directed by Ed Shea with a script that writer George M. Cohan based on a best-selling novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate spins a tangled web of ever-escalating insanity after William McGee, a writer of trashy pulp fiction, arrives to spend the night in a deserted mountaintop lodge called the Baldpate Inn. McGee (Ara Boghigian) has made a $10,000 bet with the Baldpate’s owner (Brendan Macera) that he can write an entire novel in one night.

Soon, a colorful cast of characters arrives at the Baldpate, including a newspaper reporter, Mary Norton (Erin Elliott) and her chaperone Mrs. Rhodes (Joan Batting); John Bland (Joe Henderson); Peters (J.M. Richardson), a hermit who shows up wearing a white sheet over his head; the vamp Myra Thornhill (Tanya Anderson); and Jim Cargan (Jim Sullivan), a corrupt mayor, along with his assistant Lou Max (Jeff DeSisto).


The ensuing antics include a fight over $200,000, a dead body — which disappears — gunshots, and of course, seven keys. McGee is soon plunged into a plot from one of his overheated melodramatic novels.

Cohan wrote Seven Keys to Baldpate in 1913 and wanted to poke gentle fun at the conventions of popular fiction at the time. The characters and situations are all stereotypes: a band of crooks, stolen money, the corrupt politician, the mysterious hermit, the ambitious female reporter, the greedy businessman.

Shea has fashioned a fast-paced and energetic show that benefits from the talents of its ensemble. Boghigian makes a dashing and elegant leading man who has to navigate a comic minefield of assorted oddballs. The comic timing of the supporting cast is impeccable.

The play’s technical qualities were superb.

Credit must go to art directors Matt Castigliego and Laura Sorensen for creating a cozy mountain lodge. There is a fireplace off to one side of the stage and a wall safe on the other, along with a wall of windows used to great effect. The use of light and shadow also creates a foreboding mood. It’s a great setting and captures the theme of the story perfectly.

Seven Keys to Baldpate doesn’t have any serious life lessons to impart. It is simply a lot of fun, and a great way to spend a few hours at the theater.

Performances: January 30 – February 23; Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm. Additional Performance: Monday, February 3 @ 7:30 pm. Regular Ticket Price: $25; Age 21 & Under: $20

2nd Story Theatre UpStage, 28 Market Street, Warren, RI 02885, Box Office: 401-247-4200,