The Broadway musical production of “Enron” had a very short run in New York earlier this year. After middling reviews, lackluster ticket sales and failing to get an ever-so-important Tony nomination, the producers quickly pulled the plug. But before coming to New York, the show had a very successful run in London. It’s now being staged this week by L.A. Theatre Works.
Rosalynd Ayres directs. “Possibly it worked well in London because the sort of irony of the production, the way it was put together with its sort of Vaudevillian elements, appealed to the English sense of humor more," says Ayres, "and possibly they’re more used to the idea of plays which have music in them but are not full-blown musicals.”
The L.A. Theatre Works production includes some music, but the focus is more on the characters – what drives them to create one of, if not the greatest, corruption scandals in history.
“In the Middle Ages, alchemists were in their sort of basements," says Ayres, "trying to turn base metal into gold, and since time immemorial man has wanted to make something from nothing.”
And it was no different, she says, in the corporate culture of Enron. Actor Greg Itzin portrays former Enron CEO Ken Lay. He has a hard time villainizing Lay and Jeffrey Skilling and others involved in the corporate scandal.
“Depends how you cast villains," says Itzin. "If you’re out to make a success of your company in a free enterprise system that allows you pretty much free rein to manipulate the numbers to your will, some people would say ‘that’s not villainy, that’s smart business.’”
L.A. Theatre Works’ production of “Enron” continues through Sunday at the Skirball Cultural Center. The cast includes Steven Weber, Greg Germann, and Amy Pietz.