Review: The Secret World of Archy & Mehitabel, an imaginative bug & cat tale

 The Secret World of Archy & Mehitabel is a show that lifts your spirits, tickles your funny bone, sparks your imagination, and fills you with wonderment about nature and our so-called ‘human nature.’ 

illustrated by George Herman (Krazy Kat cartoonist)

 The world premiere of The Secret World of Archy & Mehitabel was presented at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks on September 10, 2022, with performances continuing every Saturday at 8 pm through October 15 (and we hope longer). On Sept. 17 there’s a 3 pm matinee scheduled.

 The beloved New York Evening Sun columns by journalist/humorist Don Marquis (second only to Mark Twain in his day) come to life thanks to the ultra-clever adaptation for the stage by Dan Gilvezan. It is astounding to learn that this is Gilvezan’s first attempt at playwrighting because of his perfection at crafting a collection of old stories so well connected to the present, without being heavy handed.

 “It’s hard to believe that the columns are now over 100 years old. They remain as charming, poignant and relevant today as when they first enchanted readers in 1916,” Gilvezan stated about the imaginative bug and cat tales.

 Gilvezan also leads the perfect cast to tell the series of stories about Archy (Gilvezan), once a man who has now “transmigrated” to a cockroach, and his best friend Mehitabel, a sexy alley cat easily vexed, who may have been Cleopatra in a past life.

 Carolyn Hennesy is breathtakingly glorious as Mehitabel, a cat who embraces the phrase “toujours gai” (always cheerful) with a touch of irony. Richard Horvitz and Kelly Stables brilliantly play an array of lowly lifeforms— a rat, a mayfly, moth, flea, bullfrog, etc. with major attitude and versatility. Every scene with Horvitz and Stable is a showstopper as they embody the extreme personalities of the ‘insignificant’ critters, and teach us something about ourselves.

 Overseeing the denizens of NYC’s underbelly is “The Boss,” representing Marquis, played by Bill Chott with an abundance of bewildered charm. Kudos go to Moosie Drier who skillfully directed the production that weaves funny with philosophy, metaphysical with mega-lessons about life and the little miracles all around us.

 The odd tales unfold as “The Boss” arrives at his newspaper office early one morning, to find a cockroach hopping up and down on the keys of his Remington manual typewriter. It turns out that Archy the cockroach has the soul of a poet and begins sharing his stories. “The Boss” learns many things from Archy,  especially how to listen to others and actually hear them.

Kelly Stables

 Enhancing the delightful show an original score was composed for the production by jazz musician Dan West, who plays the ‘20s-styled music live on stage.

Dan West, Richard Horvitz, Dan Gilvezan

 The Secret World of Archy & Mehitabel, produced by Joselle Celine, is playing Saturdays at 8 pm, September 10 thru October 15, 2022, with a 3 pm matinee scheduled Sept. 17, at The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

For tickets and information call 818-687-8559 or go to

Bill Chott as “The Boss” (all photos by Bill Dow)

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.