Charlie Mount and Theatre West presents a Chestnuts Production

Directed by Howard Storm

Produced by Charlie Mount

Playing Through Dec 10, 2005
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM

Jeanine Anderson, Roger Cruz, Yancey Dunham, Dan Dunn, Michael Harrity, Matthew Hoffman, Daniel Keough, Joe Kim, Joe Krowka, Jack Kutcher, Jon Lafferty, Lynda Lenet, Bruce Liberty, Donald Moore, Claire Partin,
George Tovar, Selah Victor, Steven Robert Wollenberg

Tickets are $20. Seniors $15, Students $5.
Call the Box Office at (323) 851-7977
For Group Rates E-Mail

About Chesnuts

Technical Consultant: Former Welterweight Champion of the World Carlos Palomino - Palomino Entertainment

Produced by Charlie Mount
Set by Jeff Rack

Costumes by Rachel Luffy
Stage Maganer Emelle

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.


Poster Design by Charlie Mount

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Dan Keough and George Tovar

George Tovar and Dan Keough

George Tovar and Michael Harrity


This is the 50th Anniversary year for Requiem for a Heavyweight by Rod Serling (1924-1975), which originated for television's Playhouse 90 four years before Serling's most famous creation, "The Twilight Zone," began airing on CBS.  A feature film version of "Requiem" followed in 1962.

"Requiem" traces the downward spiral of Mountain McClintock, a heavyweight boxer past his prime. A former contender for heavyweight champion of the world, he never quite ascended that peak. But he gamely fought on until now, when the advancing years have taken their toll on his speed, stamina and physical condition.  He still hopes for the big bout that will restore him to prominence. What he doesn't know is that his manager, Maish Resnick, will cruelly betray him. A glimmer of hope arrives for Mountain in the person of Grace, a social worker assigned to find Mountain transitional employment, but who also falls for him. But Maish and a wrestling promoter have their own plans for Mountain…..plans that may destroy whatever dignity Mountain has left.

Like Clifford Odets' earlier play "Golden Boy," to which "Requiem" is inevitably compared,  Serling's "Requiem" is a critique of the capitalist system and the callous attitude with which the talented are consumed by that system for the profits that their gifts might provide. But unlike Odets, Serling chose as his central character not a star in the field, but a guy who never quite made it….somebody with whom the audience might more readily identify.  Also, as a former boxer himself, Serling could imbue a boxer's story with an authenticity that Odets could not.

Serling, a World War II paratrooper who won a Bronze Star , a Purple Heart and other medals, began writing in 1947 for the numerous drama anthologies that existed on TV at that time, especially "The United States Steel Hour," "Playhouse 90,"  "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre," and "The Richard Boone Show." He created a number of TV series, most famously "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery,' and wrote several memorable screenplays, including "Planet of the Apes," "Seven Days In May," "Assault on a Queen," and "The Man." Serling was an outspoken liberal and a strong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He died of a heart ailment in 1975  following a collapse while mowing his lawn.

"Requiem" is the inaugural production of Chestnuts, a new wing of Theatre West dedicated to staging revivals of great plays. Longtime Theatre West member Charlie Mount is the Producing Director of Chestnuts, which is made possible by a grant from the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation.

Howard Storm directs "Requiem." Following a career as an A-list comic with appearances on every major TV talk show, Storm transitioned into directing after assisting Woody Allen on "Take The Money and Run."  Storm directed the entire first three seasons of "Mork and Mindy" and directed Jim Carrey in his feature film debut "Once Bitten." Howard's many, many other directing credits include episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond," "ALF," "Major Dad," and "Full House." He has appeared onstage at Theatre West as part of the comedy duo Harrington & Storm, and with the traveling comedy troupe "Yarmy's Army."

Steve Wollenberg, Mick Harrity in
"Requiem For A Heavyweight"
Photos by Bonnie Kalisher and Charlie Mount
Poster Designs by Charlie Mount


'HEAVYWEIGHT' Relaces The Gloves
by D.C.N.

"In 1955, Rod Serling penned an elegy to a failed fighter in a corrupt system. When it aired a a "Playhouse 90" telecast in 1956, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" made Serling famous and took critics, audiences and awards organizations to the mat. A similar impact attends the mounting of this classic by Chestnuts Productions and Theatre West, centered by Michael Harrity's knockout turn as boxer-on-the-ropes Mountain McClintock.

Once nearly the world heavy-weight champion, McClintock has hit the skids. Possbily brain-damaged, prematurely old by his 30s, McClintock has nothing left but devotion to manager Maish (George Tovar), a misjudgement of epic proportions. Maish, indebted to gangsters after betting agasint his own fighter, manipulates the Mountain's dumb loyalty into exhibition wrestling, which appals trainer Army (Daniel Keough). What will happen when McClintock realizes how Maish has used him?

That question fuels Serling's narrative, lovingly directed by Howard Storm. Despite some period dust mites of pace and attitude, the histrionic punch remains intact. Deisgner Jeff Rack provides excellent multiple settings, a seamy locker room revealing an Edward Hoppereque bar with ease.

Harrity, whose craggy features and power physicallity often sugges John Wayne, gives a wholly heart-wrenching portrayal. Keough gives Army old school force, and Tovar exudes nervous oiliness as Maish. Bruce Liberty, Matthew Hoffman, Lynda Lenet, and Dan Dunn are other standouts in the noir-flavored cast. At the reviewed performance, understudy Claire Partin went in for Selah Victor as social worker Grace. Though Partin's readings are hesitant, her sincerity is evident, which typifies this two-fisted revival.


Requiem for a Heavyweight at Theatre West
by Joseph Mailander

Headlining Theatre West's excursion into the work of Rod Serling this fall is Requiem for a Heavyweight, the Playhouse 90 classic from 1955, which opened Friday, October 7, to an enormously appreciative audience. As with a Serling script itself, there's an abundance of intelligence behind this production.

The intelligence begins with the approaches of director Howard Storm. Storm as an actor and "A-list comic" thrives on timing and quick shufflings of mood; as director he handles timing and mood with special care, inviting actors to bring their own multiple psychological components to their characters. Most of the actors, in fact, decided not to reference the Playhouse 90 play at all while preparing for their parts, but to bring elements of themselves informed by their own direct reading of the script.

"It's between me and you [the audience], not between me and you and someone else," Steven Robert Wollenberg, who plays Maish Resnick, Mountain McClintock's manager, says at the reception after opening night. The result is a play that jumps from fifty years ago into today by exploring the text itself with genuine freshness and vitality. In the end, Storm's production stands quite apart from its well-known predecessor, even at the moments when the most memorable scenes from the Playhouse 90 version suddenly present themselves.

The majestic script itself squeezes a little more tightly with every new scene, and Storm gives it welcome breathing room by playing up its moments of tenderness and easy humanity, and lets his actors run with their characters even while retaining a comic's death-grip on timing. (The gin rummy scene, for instance, is one of the rare moments of respite where nothing much critical to the plot is happening, but Storm has invited the actors to play this putative moment for maximum fun, with an abundant emphasis on timing). The work of Wollenberg especially, who must as manager locate many different tempi for his various interactions, assuring his once-golden boy, arguing with his increasingly contrary trainer, buying time with menacing thugs, hectoring the doctor with the bad news, and railing at the empty receiver of the telephone at characters who never appear, all indicate an intimate exchange between actor and director.

As this is a very well-known play for those of a certain age, I found myself rushing ahead when certain lines were within sight: I was wondering how the heavyweight, "Mountain" McClintock, would mouth the word "clown" for instance. Jack Palance is at his most pitiable when he slurs the word, plaintively—he's too hurt to accept it—but Michael Harrity's Mountain remains a proud man even to this point, and shows the word considerable contempt. Indeed, Mountain's contempt for his own lot steadily escalates through the whole second act, as his self-esteem waxes and wanes and waxes again—when Palance breaks down, he's a sad and notably empty wretch, but when Harrity's Mountain sobs, he's simply ashamed, ashamed to be nobody, but he understands his own shame. It's a great read on the script—whenever he must confront the clown wrestling gear, we feel the shame crawl up Mountain's back and lodge itself right underneath the coonskin cap.

Harrity as Mountain McClintock, the past-peak boxer from Tennessee who for the first time begins to ponder life after the ring, a life which has consumed his whole existential being for fourteen years, brings an athletic confidence compromised by physical and psychological uncertainty to his challenging role. (Indeed, the way he manipulates his body, not only athletically but psychologically, and reveals his mind through physical contortions reminds one of a young Jeff Bridges.) He is crisp and confident only when striking boxing poses—poses that seem to overtake him suddenly, like Tourette's tics-but forecasts life as a stumblebum when talking to his social worker or suddenly revolted by his prospects. He is a physical Janus, caught at the moment between a promising past and a punchdrunk future, and sudden bursts of physicality exhibit both.

Grace, the social worker who takes a special interest in Mountain, is played with cautious '50's sexuality by the agreeable and tantalizing Selah Victor. For her, Mountain is beyond a fascination: he's a potentially volcanic complement to her fine posture and protective politesse. Ms. Victor invests in her character a barely-subsumed longing that makes her presence in any scene vibrant. Having previous experience with fabled musical theater roles contemporaneous to Requiem, like Gypsy and Maria in West Side Story, undoubtedly informs her performance here.

Other standouts include the moralizing Army, played both smooth and Runyonesque by Daniel Keough, and Roger Cruz's Perelli, who was invited to run with a comic take on his lines early on, and provides ample comic relief in every scene in which he appears. Carlos Palomino, the one-time welterweight champion who as a boxer was simply adored in Los Angeles boxing circles, has an entertaining bit role as Morrell and also provided technical consulting on boxing to the play. Jeff Rack's set design frames are Hopperesque.

Requiem for a Heavyweight is at Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard West (towards the Valley end of the Cahuenga pass). The play runs through December 10. Call 323-851-7977 for tickets, or visit

Nite Lites

By Pat Taylor

I have only one play to share with you this week, but it is everything one could hope for in an evening’s theatrical experience! Entertaining, explosive, touching, well scripted, and acted…this one packs a powerful punch!

This is a gut wrenchingly involving, well directed and produced production that should fare well for the long respected troupe at Theatre West. The first offering in a planned series of revivals of great plays, audiences here are in for some memorable theatre this season. The next one will be “Lion in Winter” starring Bridget Hanley (from TV’s “Here Come The Brides” and Jim Beaver (on the hit series “Deadwood”) opening in January. Rod Serling’s “Requiem” …is a hard, cold look at the gritty world of boxing. A heartless, mercenary business that pits muscle against muscle, while dehumanizing fighters for the almighty dollar, and discarding them when their power no longer pays off, this is strong stuff! This is the story of one such fighter named Mountain McClintock. An aging heavyweight boxer, and a past contender for the world title, whose strength and stamina are waning, must brutally face what turns out to be his last fight.

When the examining doctor calls the end of Mountain’s career in the ring, as his manipulative manager and kindhearted trainer look on, the story unfolds. Forced to hand up his gloves, his future is unknown. Once a beloved, well known boxer, and now a beaten down, jobless, lost soul, this simple man must find his place in society. The journey is heart tugging and eye opening in turns, as he searches for the meaning of his life. Michael Harrity gives a mesmerizing, powerful performance as Mountain! Focused, painfully sensitive, and achingly raw, we feel his every pain. As his deceitful and conniving manager, Steven Robert Wollenberg is despicably dynamic, and as his devoted trainer, Daniel Keough is flawless. Selah Victor sweetly portrays Grace, the unemployment office worker who falls for Mountain, and Lynda Lenet is sexy and sassy as the “hooker with a heart of gold”. Roger Cruz is delightfully quirky, offering comic relief as a fight promoter. Too many in cast comment on all, but the entire ensemble turns out commendable performances!

The constantly changing set design by Jeff Rack was quite impressive, and the detailed and eye appealing costuming by newcomer Rachelle Luffy was also top notch. Great job by make-up genius Ryan Durling who unrecognizably transformed the attractive Harrity into the beaten and battered boxer. This is a daunting and in depth peek into the underbelly of the boxing game…a world few of us are familiar with. Do catch this one. It is a knock out!