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THE $4 MILLION GIVEAWAY 

Thursday, Jan 10 2008
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Set in a two-room suite at New York's Knickerbocker Arms, Art Shulman's "mystery" examines what large amounts of money make people do. Jesse Morgan (Chris Winfield), a terminally ill man who enjoys playing games, decides to give away his fortune, but the catch is that the four eligible recipients have to vote among themselves to decide which two will get $2 million each. His ex-wife, Jennifer (Renee Gorsey); his former employer, Karl (Richard Tirrell); his ex-best friend, Ken (Charles O'Hair); and a homeless man named Woodrow (Disraeli Ellison) vie for the prize, while Jesse and his nubile, young attorney Kimberly (Alyse Courtney) watch from the next room via television monitor. Though the characters are often stereotypically drawn and Act 1 is a bit of a snooze filled with obvious exposition, the appearance of Jesse's mentally impaired adult daughter, Emily (Trisha Hershberger), in Act 2 and a plot twist at the end of it raise the stakes and salvage the piece somewhat. Ellison provides most of the comedy by fully embodying his eccentric character, and Hershberger, who plays her role with touching sensibility, gives the piece heart. Kristina Lloyd's direction unfortunately lacks dynamism, and until the second act, Winfield's naturalistic set is the most captivating thing onstage. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 18. Continues through March 8, 2008

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