STEVE MARTIN’S “The Underpants” – Gets an airing at Gough Street Playhouse

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Custom Made Theatre Company kicks off its 13th season with the San Francisco premiere of wild & crazy guy Steve Martin’s The Underpants, September 23rd through October 22nd at Gough Street Playhouse, 1629 Gough Street in San Francisco. This hilarious, laugh-out-loud farce, is directed by long-time theatre guru Herb Gelb, whose credits extend from Moliere to Mamet and back again. Featured in the cast are Michael Moerman, AJ Davenport, Gabriel A. Ross, David Vega, Paul Stout, and introduces newcomer Riley Krull as Louise, the lady who loses, briefly, her knickers.

Steve Martin has steadily widened and deepened his natural feel for comedy since the days of The Jerk, “Funky Tut,” and the arrow-through-the-head. The man who brought us Picasso at the Lapin Agile in 1993 went back to his European muse in 2002 for The Underpants, his take on the popular 1910 farce by German writer Carl Sternheim, then titled Die Hose. It meant underpants then, and it still does, with all the naughty plot turns that had German Herrren guffawing and their Frauen blushing into their puffy sleeves.


As the play opens, Theo Maske, an officious, puritanical bureaucrat, berates his wife, Louise, for allowing her underpants to fall to the ground at a parade for the king. Theo frets that he and Louise will be financially ruined and become social outcasts from the inevitable scandal. But before long, besotted men appear at Maske’s door to rent a room – and, unnoticed by the proprietor, to seduce his wife. As scandal erupts into spectacle, the characters reflect, and reflect upon, our fascination with fame, our reliance on gender roles, and our enslavement by sex.

Custom Made Theatre takes on this classic, expressionist farce that shows1910 to be as naughty as today – maybe even more so. The New York Daily News wrote “Not since Monica Lewinsky’s thong has a pair of panties caused such a national fuss.” Of course the Daily News would say that, and if they’d had the story in 1910, it would have been on page one.
Click here to order tickets on-line: THE UNDERPANTS


Riley Krull (as Louise) – makes her Custom Made Theatre Company debut in The Underpants. She is a recent graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music, where she received a BFA in Musical Theater (with honors). She will be seen later this fall in 42nd Street Moon’s production of Three Sisters as Mary Barbour.

AJ Davenport ( as Gertrude) – The Underpants marks AJ’s 20th performance with CMTC and her fifth year as a member of the company. AJ has also appeared with Multi Ethnic Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre, Crowded Fire, Killing My Lobster, Boxcar, La Vache Enragee and Unconditional Theatre.

Michael Moerman (as Klinglehoff) – began his acting career in San Diego where his experience included the Avo, Diversionary, La Jolla Playhouse, and North Coast Rep. After moving north, he appeared at Boxcar – where he is a Company Member – Center Rep, Foothill, Willows, San Jose Stage, and five seasons at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. Michael won a Shelly Award for “Frank” in Over the River at Center Rep. This is his Custom Made debut.

Gabriel A. Ross (as Cohen) has been working with CMTC since 2005. He has performed in Finding the Sun, Sincerity Forever, Equus, The Water Engine, Assassins, The Odd Couple, Orchards, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell. He also directed the Sedaris family’s The Book of LIz, as well as Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare. In addition to performing, he produces CMTC’s playreading and workshop programs as well as functioning as the Casting Director. He has worked with SF Shakespeare, The Willows, Impact, and Thrillpeddlers (where he played “Sebastian” in the long-running Pearls Over Shanghai).

David Vega (as Theo) – spent his teens doing theatre on the Monterey Peninsula, where his favorite roles included The Peach in Cobb, Jack in The Boys Next Door and Fred Casely in Chicago, all at Monterey Peninsula College. He is remembered by Monterey Bay Theatrefest fans as the claymore-wielding, bikini-clad female bodybuilder in the 1992 Human Chess Game.

Paul Stout (as Versati) – The Underpants marks Chico native Paul Stout’s second appearance with Custom Made. He first appeared as Toulon in M Butterfly. His most recent roles include Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the Pinole Community Players and Winfield in Indulgences in the Louisville Harem at Off-Broadway West. He has worked with Marin Shakespeare Company, Cal Shakes, Cutting Ball, Boxcar Theatre, and in the Bay Area One-Act Festival.

Hal Gelb (Director) – is a director/writer who has worked in theater, film, television and print media. He has directed scripts by playwrights ranging from Pinter, Mamet and Fugard to Moliere and Shakespeare, as well as many new plays. His media work has been shown by PBS, KQED, KTVU, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Brussels Conference on the Environment and United Nations agencies. It was his idea and work that transformed Theatre Bay Area from a group serving individual artists into an organization that serves the needs of both those individuals and the Bay Area’s theater companies. Hal is the Producing Director of the Playwrights’ Lab at the Throckmorton in Mill Valley and has been the West Coast theater critic for The Nation.

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:


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