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A Loss of Roses

The Coconut Grove Playhouse, Coconut Grove, Florida (26 July - 7 August 1960)

Appearing as Kenny Baird

A play by William Inge.

Synopsis by curator@jmdigitalscrapbook.com:

Helen Baird is a faded, disillusioned shadow of woman, whose husband left her years before. Since then, she's devoted all her energies to the upbringing of her son, Kenny. But Kenny is nearly a man and he's beginning to chafe under his mother's suffocating love and overprotectiveness.

Adding to the strain is the unexpected arrival of Lila Green, a member of a third-rate acting troupe passing through town in search of their next paying gig. Years before, Lila and Helen had been friends, with Lila even filling in from time to time as Kenny's babysitter. No great talent as an actress, Lila's looks have gotten her by thus far, but she's growing older and is no longer the stunning beauty she was in her heyday.

Disillusioned and unhappy, Lila decides to stay with her old friend and reexamine her life while the rest of the group goes on to the next big town to try their luck.

Lila quickly discovers that she's still attractive enough to catch Kenny's eye, and the two are soon having a torrid love affair. Realizing that Helen would not look kindly on their involvement, particularly in light of her strong religious convictions, the two decide to keep their relationship a secret -- a sure recipe for disaster.

This poignant story touches on a number of intriguing and engrossing ideas but, unfortunately, does none of them justice. At times too heavy-handed, at times not serious enough, it's a rice cake of a story -- attractive-looking and appealing on the surface, but flat, tasteless, and disappointingly unsatisfying once consumed. No wonder it failed on Broadway after only 25 performances and fared no better in this second attempt -- or that it earned itself the nickname "A Loss of Grosses."


Helen Baird: Blanche Kelly
Kenny Baird: James MacArthur
Geoffrey Beamis (Jelly): Don Penny
Lila Green: Jan Sterling
Ronny Cavendish: Bertram Appleby
Mme. Olga St. Valentine: Annette Foosaner
Ricky Powers: Gene Damian
Mrs. Mulvaney: Mary Muir

A Loss of Roses Script

A Loss of Roses Program featuring James MacArthur

A Loss of Roses cast list

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