#HFF15: Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers in “A Hollywood Ending”, reviewed

Orson Welles, Scatman Crothers, theatre

Reviewed by Benjamin Schwartz

“Magic In The Waiting Room”

Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers in ‘A Hollywood Ending’ provides a timely glimpse into what could be an extremely accurate depiction of two artists at the end of their respected careers.

Orson Welles is certainly the personality that is instantly recognizable, while the name Scatman Crothers doesn’t usually ring most people’s bell.  You might have heard Scatman as the voice of Scat Cat from the animated film, The Aristocats, or seen his acting in The Shining and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Welles and Crothers strike up conversation while waiting to audition for the 1985 animated film, Transformers: The Movie.  At first, it is difficult to see why these two would be in the same room, let alone auditioning for the same movie. As the expertly crafted dialogue rolls along, both the characters and audience start to understand how similar these two really are.

Welles (Rob Locke) and Crothers (Dennis Neal) are dream roles for actors, and the two really sink their teeth deep into the material. Locke does a fine job capturing the elitist, ego-driven Welles who has the largest character arch. But it is his counterpart, Dennis Neal who really steals the show.

It is difficult to take your eyes off Neal as he gives a beautifully organic, honest performance.  These two seasoned actors sport their acting chops as they bounce emotions and patter very well off each other in this character-driven play.

It is inherently clear that playwright and director, David Castro, has done a great deal of research on the time period and characters. The dated references may be a little much for a common layman, but the writing is impeccable. The dialogue is a continuous stream of natural conversation tucked within a tight three-act structure. A playwright who directs his own work tends to be blind to errors during rehearsal, but this is not the case here. Castro does a great job directing his actors to hit the exact nuances and timing of the script.

Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers in ‘A Hollywood Ending’ examines how these two consummate artists defined success and artistic freedom while still trying to pay the bills.

It is wholly entertaining, thought-provoking and poignant.


Written and Directed by David Castro

Featuring: Dennis Neal as Scatman Crothers and Rob Locke and Orson Welles

Paul Major is the Stage Manager

Synopsis: ‘Orson Welles & Scatman Crothers ’ in “A Hollywood Ending” could almost be called “A Couple of Hollywood Guys Sitting Around Talking.” With one of those guys being Hollywood legend Orson Welles, the man who wrote, directed and starred in ’Citizen Kane’, considered by many to be the single greatest film of all time. And the other guy being Scatman Crothers, maybe the prototypical “I know that guy from somewhere, just can’t remember his name.” Each did everything. Welles wrote, starred, directed and produced and Scatman did everything else – actor, singer, songwriter, bandleader, comedian, emcee and cartoon voice-over specialist. In 1985 they -the legend and the journeyman – had been in showbiz for over 100 years combined. In that century they’d never worked together. That all changed when they auditioned for and got parts in ‘The Transformers: The Movie’, an animated film based on the TV cartoon show and predating by years the billion-dollar live-action movie franchise. It was the last job for each of them. Welles died a week after his voice work ended and Crothers died some months later. It is my hope that you will get a much better appreciation and feel for both Welles and Crothers from their conversation and the topics they touch upon based on the lives they led, the work they did and the times they lived in.

Copyright © 2015 Gia On The Move. All rights reserved. 

Written and/or recorded exclusively for Gia On The Move. No part of this Gia On The Move publication, writing, video, or audio may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Copyright infringement is a crime. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Gia On The Move Permissions Coordinator”. For more information please review our reprints and permissions page