IN A BOOTH AT CHASEN’S by Carol Kaufman Segal
Chasen’s was a restaurant that opened in 1936 at 9039 Beverly Blvd. on the border of Beverly Hills. It soon became a favorite spot for people in the entertainment business, and for many years it was the site for the Academy Awards party. Many regular patrons had booths named in their honor, so when you see the musical, In A Booth at Chasen’s at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, you will understand why the Ronald Reagan booth is on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. (Chasen’s closed in 1995 due to a decline in business,)
It was November, 1949, when Ronald Reagan (Brent Schindele), still feeling the pangs from a recent divorce from Jane Wyman, had a blind date with a 29-year old starlet named Nancy Davis (Kelley Dorney). They met in a booth at Chasen’s, and Nancy was rather nervous being with a tried and true actor who was also the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild. As the evening progressed, they were feeling quite comfortable together, and following their first meeting, they began spending more and more time with each other.
During the next two years, they became extremely close. They opened their hearts to one another and sometimes squabbled, just like any married couple. So why did it take Ronald so long to propose to Nancy? The play draws on the long amount of time it finally takes him to do so, and when he finally does, it is in their favorite booth at Chasen’s!
The story is well-written by Sam Bennett, and the music and lyrics by Al Kasha and Phil Swann add a special feel to the story as beautifully sung by Kelly Dorney and Brent Schindele. The two actors are so perfect in their roles that they give one the feeling of actually seeing and hearing Ronald and Nancy relaying their story.
In A Booth at Chasen’s is directed by Kay Cole, Musical Director is Jonathan Tessero, and the lovely scenic design is by Andy Walmsley. The production is playing at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, through November 25th. For further information regarding the schedule and to order tickets, call (818) 508-4200, or go online at www.InABoothAtChasens.com.