Otsego County notables fill the screen for “Roadhouse Coup” film

Otsego County notables fill the screen for “Roadhouse Coup” film

That’s versatile actor Alan Rowe Kelly portraying jailed murderer Eva Coo in “A Roadhouse Coup.” (Kevin Limiti/AllOtsego.com)

By KEVIN LIMITI  • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

What are all these local dignitaries doing in a brothel in Oneonta?

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, former New York State Senator James Seward, and even Oneonta Mayor-Elect Mark Drnek are all there — all with roles in a new film about a 1930s brothel-operator-turned-murderer.

It’s an enthusiastically local affair. Among many others, Ben Guenther of Five Star Subaru and Jim Seymour, owner of the Black Oak Tavern, also had roles in the production.

Oneonta company Tandem Cage Productions screened its first trailer of “A Roadhouse Coup” at the Black Oak Tavern in Oneonta on Friday, November 12, during a party with cast and crew. The filmmakers shot scenes at recognizable locations like the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown, the old Cooperstown jail, and the Armory in Oneonta.

The film tells the story of Eva Coo, owner of a brothel in Oneonta found guilty of murdering Harry “Gimpy” Wright in 1934 to collect insurance money. Mrs. Coo was sentenced to death and executed in Sing Sing Prison’s electric chair in 1935.

Lori Bailey, writer, director, and producer of the film, said it was amazing how things came together with involving so many different people from the Oneonta area.

“I was involved, my father was involved,” Ms. Bailey said. “It really brings people together.”

She said getting prominent local people involved was something which built on top of one another.
“One thing just led to another,” she said. “First it was Mayor Tillapaugh, and then Senator Seward said he’d love to be in the movie.”

Alan Rowe Kelly, mostly known for his work in horror movies, plays Eva Coo. He said he considers the chance to play the character an “awesome experience.”

“The research alone has been really fascinating,” Mr. Kelly said, adding he spent three weeks researching the character by reading old newspaper clippings about the story from the 1930s.

He said filming at the Otsego County Courthouse was “pretty wild.”

“Just those cathedral ceilings and the sound were amazing,” Mr. Kelly said.

“It felt like I was really on trial.”

He said playing Eva Coo was like “one of those types of roles where she’s really just a gangster lady.”
He said he spent time watching old gangster movies. “I wanted to get how they spoke, and changed their diction,” he said. “It’s hard to find a central part of her because she’s really quite notorious.”

“I think she got really greedy and I think that was her downfall,” Mr. Kelly said of Eva Coo. “This was a really great opportunity to jump into a crime story.”

Left to right: Ben Guenther, Eva Coo, former State Senator James Seward, Doug Decker on the set of Roadhouse Coup. (contributed)

Vicki Hurlburt, owner of Oneonta’s Shakedown Street Café, plays Coo’s accomplice Martha Clift in “A Roadhouse Coup.” This was her first acting experience.

“I’ve never been on a stage before in my life,” Ms. Hurlburt said. “Working with Mr. Kelly was a really great experience in terms of helping me with acting. Alan has made it so easy for newbies. I remember my nerves on the first day were just outrageous. I just felt so relieved reading lines backstage.”

Ms. Hurlburt said working as an actress is quite different than what she’s used to.

“Its long days and a lot of hurry up and wait,” she said. “So that’s new to me. I have to be one of those moving 24/7.”

But she said despite that she really grew to like it.

“It’s been a joy,” Ms. Hurlburt said.

Oneonta Mayor-elect Mark Drnek, was on hand at the Black Oak Tavern and said he was very happy to see the movie being made.

“I am beyond excited that we have films being produced in and around Oneonta,”

Mr. Drnek said. “And as mayor I will work to ensure that our burgeoning film industry is nurtured and supported.”


2 thoughts on “Otsego County notables fill the screen for “Roadhouse Coup” film

  1. Jeanette Puylara

    I have always been interested in eva coo. My father knew all about it and helped a professor at suco with his research. I brought her up last year on the oneonta remember website and it went viral. I got so many messages.i have all the clippings and the professors transcripts and letter that might be of interest to you and should be preserved. I would love the chance to be some part of this. If you would like my materials feel free to contact me

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