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Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 10/28/12 & Theatre Quote of the Week


 

"Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."

-- Gore Vidal, The Best Man

 

The grosses are out for the week ending 10/28/2012 and we've got them all right here in BroadwayWorld.com's grosses section.

Up for the week was: THE HEIRESS(0.1%),

Down for the week was: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (-18.1%), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (-14.1%), GRACE (-11.1%), CHAPLIN (-10.4%), WAR HORSE (-9.7%), EVITA (-9.3%), MAMMA MIA! (-8.1%), SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK (-7.4%), NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (-7.3%), CHICAGO (-7.0%), SCANDALOUS (-7.0%), BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL (-6.7%), FRANKIE VALLI AND THE FOUR SEASONS ON BROADWAY (-6.1%), MARY POPPINS (-6.0%), CYRANO DE BERGERAC (-6.0%), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (-5.6%), JERSEY BOYS (-5.5%), ROCK OF AGES (-5.4%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-4.5%), ANNIE (-4.0%), THE LION KING (-2.7%), AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (-2.4%), NEWSIES (-2.3%), WICKED (-2.0%), GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (-1.4%), ONCE (-0.5%),

Posted on: Thursday, November 01, 2012 @ 12:35 PM Posted by: Michael Dale


House For Sale

The program for Transport Group’s premiere production of director Daniel Fish’s stage adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s essay, House For Sale, tells us that every performance is different, because each actor has apparently memorized the entire ninety minute piece and the sections of the text they perform each night are determined on the spot when the on-stage rows of lights display the color they’ve been assigned.  Unfortunately, audience members don’t get programs until after the play is done, so if you’re not aware that the original piece was written in one voice you have no idea that each ensemble member represents the same person and may wind up spending too much time trying to figure out what the blinking lights are supposed to mean.

Frazen’s essay, published in his 2007 collection The Discomfort Zone, concerns the author’s childhood memories and more recent observations as he prepares the house he grew up in to be sold after his mother’s death.  Unfortunately, Fish’s abstract approach to the material not only does nothing to enhance Frazen’s words, it alienates the audience from whatever value the text may contain.

The five-member ensemble (Rob Campbell, Lisa Joyce, Merritt Janson, Christina Rouner and Michael Rudko) occupies a lengthy playing area that the audience looks down on from seats on risers.  A fourth wall lies horizontally between the stage and the seats and has a mounted video screen that projects directly upward and upside down from the audience’s vantage point.  Long rows of folding chairs give the playing space the look of an airport waiting room.  Inexplicably connected projections, like the bloody conclusion to the film Bonnie and Clyde, are shown on the upstage wall.

The play begins with each actor taking turns delivering the same monologue, speeding up each turn until the words are gibberish.  They sometimes sing the text.  There’s a point where they speak in unison while all jog furiously in place.  Soon after, there is text where each actor speaks one word at a time.  One cast member is dragged across the length of the stage while speaking of economic matters.  Another dons a Minnie Mouse costume while telling of a family trip to Disney World.

What is done is done very well, but what the production has to do with the text is baffling.

Photo of Lisa Joyce, Rob Campbell, Christina Rouner, Michael Rudko and Merritt Janson by Carol Rosegg.

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Posted on: Saturday, October 27, 2012 @ 03:35 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Wild With Happy

Don’t tell God, but for some people pop culture not even a century old can provide the same kind of spiritual inspiration and comfort as the ancient texts and traditions of organized religion.  Just ask Adelaide, the central character of Colman Domingo’s wonderfully joyous, sweet and funny adventure, Wild With Happy.  No, wait, you can’t.  Because she’s dead when the play starts.

Adelaide was the mother of Gil, played by Domingo himself, a smartly sardonic New York Yalie who hasn’t set foot in church since he was ten years old and Adelaide, after finding her boyfriend cheating on her the night before, woke her sleepy boy one Sunday morning determined that they had to “get up and get us some Jesus!”

But this isn’t a play about grieving.  It’s a bit more about how examining the life of someone who’s gone can affect you own life for the better.  But that message only creeps in toward the end of director Robert O’Hara’s clever and imaginative production, when the series of sometimes farcical/sometimes sitcomy scenes start blending into something of heartwarming sentimentality.

Frustrated by the responsibility of having to make funeral arrangements – not to mention the flirtations and sales pitches of the attractive funeral director, Terry (Korey Jackson) – Gil considers cremation, to the horror of his sassy-tongued, traditional Aunt Glo.  (“Black people don't do that!  You don't do that unless a person was burned or mutilated or too fat to fit in a coffin!”)  Sharon Washington doubles up on the female roles, projecting radiance as Adelaide in flashback moments and acting hilariously over-the-top as her domineering sister.

When Gil’s diva-ish friend Mo (Maurice McRae) learns of Adelaide’s past fascination with the Walt Disney version of Cinderella, he kidnaps his pal on an impromptu road trip to Orlando (with Terry and Aunt Glo hot in pursuit), finally settling into the room that Gil’s mother always dreamed of, Disney World’s Cinderella Suite.

Set and costume designer Clint Ramos, who spends much of the play dreaming up fun and unexpected ways to turn coffins into set pieces, presents a perfect interpretation of the Cinderella Suite as a cathedral of wonder, bringing out Domingo’s themes of faith and fantasy, spirituality and the magic of human imagination.

Wild With Happy is a delicious charmer about finding the heaven that’s right for you and forever keeping it in your heart.

Photos by Joan Marcus: Top: Colman Domingo; Bottom: Colman Domingo and Sharon Washington.

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Posted on: Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 09:59 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Broadway Originals & Grace

“We should not do a show more often,” quipped Ryan Silverman as he an Jill Paice took in the appreciative applause of the Town Hall audience before even singing a note of the Broadway musical they were expected to star in this season, Rebecca.  Host Scott Siegel had just recapped the story of the show’s numerous delays, fake investors, missing funds and the fact that an estimated 150 theatre professions had either turned down work or stopped seeking immediate employment because of their expectation to be working on Broadway by Christmas.

The pair grandly tore into three selections of what is apparently a dark, gothic, power ballad heavy musical: “Help Me Face The Night,” “Free Now,” and “Oh, My God.”  Ryan tried setting up that final song by explaining at what point it appears in the story before realizing he didn’t know.

Sunday’s concert, created by Siegel with music direction by John Fischer, was the 8th edition of Broadway Originals, a favorite feature of Town Hall’s Annual Broadway Cabaret Festival, which traditionally presents musical theatre stars who have actually made it to opening night, singing selections from roles they either originated on Broadway or played in the first company of a Broadway revival.

In past years Broadway Originals has trotted out some beloved older performers like George S. Irving, Anita Gillette and Nancy Dussault, recreating triumphs from fifty or sixty years ago, but this year the accent was on youth and more recent productions.  The most senior of the citizens was the vivacious and still very active Tovah Feldshuh, swiveling her hips to the title song of Sarava, the 1979 musical that, before Spider-Man, was the model of a show that tried avoiding the critics by continually delaying its opening with a then incredable 38 previews.

Perhaps the least familiar face on stage was Kelli Rabke, who played the narrator in the 1993 revival of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and fiercely belted out “Jacob and Sons” with sizzling power.

Tonya Pinkins displayed supurb vocal dexterity and dynamics in interpreting Duke Ellington and Don George’s “I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues,” which she sang in the Harlem version of Twelfth Night called Play On!, and showed why she’s one of musical theatre’s top dramatic actresses with “Underwater” from Caroline, or Change.

Another outstanding musical theatre actress, Barbara Walsh, sang her Big solo about clinging to parental moments, “Stop, Time,” and honored us with a sparklingly wry “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

Alice Ripley repeated her Next To Normal highlight, “I Miss The Mountains” and assumed both roles for Side Show’s “Who Will Love Me As I Am?”

Laura Osnes, one of Broadway’s fastest rising stars, brought back her Bonnie & Clyde number, “How ‘Bout A Dance?,” and was reunited with her Grease co-star Max Crumm for “You’re The One That I Want.”

Elizabeth Stanley seriously steamed up the place while barely moving with an intensely sexual “Fever,” which she soloed in Million Dollar Quartet, and them assumed all three roles for Company’s Andrew Sisters-styled “You Can Drive A Person Crazy,” which helped make the character seem truly bonkers.

Mandy Gonzalez reminded us of both the lows and highs of her career, singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” from Dance of the Vampires – with the concert’s director, Scott Coulter, filling in for Michael Crawford with backup vocals – and “Breathe” from In The Heights.

Matt Cavenaugh contribulted some breathtaking moments as he delicately held those lengthy high notes in West Side Story’s “Maria,” then kicked back a bit for Urban Cowboy’s “It Don’t Get Better Than This.”

Lindsay Mendez had only one spot in the show, joyously belting Godspell’s “Bless The Lord.”  Perhaps she can do more another time if someone will move her memerable performance from earlier this season in Off-Broadway’s Dogfight to Broadway.

Photos by Genevieve Rafter Keddy: Top: Tonya Pinkins; Bottom: Tovah Feldshuh.

**************************

Craig Wright certainly isn’t the first playwright to open with an attention-grabbing final scene and then flash back to the beginning to show how the characters got there.  But what really grabs attention at the beginning of Grace is that the opening/final scene is actually played backwards, with the closing action beginning the play and all subsequent lines and staging moments reversed, only to be done again realistically at the evening’s conclusion.

The march to that conclusion is a muddy one, however, as Grace touches upon various aspects of faith – in both the spiritual and secular senses – without introducing anything particularly fresh about them.

Naïve and ambitious Steve (Paul Rudd) and his dutiful wife Sara (Kate Arrington) – both devout Christians – have uprooted from Minnesota to Florida, inspired by promised financial backing for Steve’s new business venture, a chain of gospel-themed hotels.  Their slogan:  Where Would Jesus Stay?

Their reclusive neighbor, Sam (Michael Shannon), is a NASA computer guy whose face was severely disfigured in a car accident that killed his fiancé.  Set designer Beowulf Boritt provides a cookie-cutter development condo meant to represent both their homes, which the actors occupy simultaneously.  Above them, lighting designer David Weiner’s skyscapes are appropriately inspirational.

The cynical Sam has the sharpest lines when first encountering Steve’s faith-driven sales pitches, but he opens up emotionally to the lonely Sara.  A pair of whimsical breaks are provided by, of all people, Ed Asner, as a Holocaust-surviving atheist exterminator with a cancer-stricken wife.

Director Dexter Bullard’s production is certainly competent, as is the quartet of actors, but Grace’s hundred minutes of romantic triangle wrapped in theaological discussions is hardly inspired.

Photo by Joan Marcus: Kate Arrington, Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon.

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Posted on: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 12:37 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 10/21/12 & Theatre Quote of the Week

 

"I believe in censorship.  I made a fortune out of it."
-- Mae West

The grosses are out for the week ending 10/21/2012 and we've got them all right here in BroadwayWorld.com's grosses section.

Up for the week was: THE HEIRESS (6.4%), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (6.1%), SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK (5.4%), ANNIE (2.9%), NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (2.9%), BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL (1.8%), JERSEY BOYS (1.4%), RUNNING ON EMPTY (1.0%), ROCK OF AGES (0.8%), WAR HORSE (0.8%), ONCE (0.6%), NEWSIES (0.5%), EVITA (0.5%), CHICAGO(0.1%),

Down for the week was: SCANDALOUS (-22.8%), CYRANO DE BERGERAC (-11.8%), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (-5.4%), AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (-3.8%), MARY POPPINS (-3.0%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-2.2%), GRACE (-2.0%), CHAPLIN (-1.7%), MAMMA MIA! (-1.5%), WICKED (-0.1%),

Posted on: Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 03:27 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Morning Observation

The only trouble with these 90-minute musicals that start at 7pm is that I really can't get all that enthused over the big 8:15 number.

 

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Posted on: Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 11:49 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Loni Ackerman's Next To Ab-Normal

I suppose there’s nothing unusual about a little kid waking up one morning to see a group of her parents’ friends socializing around the family piano.  It’s just that when you’re young Loni Ackerman, those friends include Mayor John Lindsay, Ted Kennedy, Ralph Nader, several members of the Black Panthers and, playing the piano, football star Rosie Greer.

But hey, what would you expect from a kid who spends her 13th birthday party singing duets with Gwen Verdon, as directed by Bob Fosse.

Musical theatre fans know Ackerman as the girl with the big, belty voice who played the feisty maid in George M!, the Boston gold-digger in No, No, Nanette and the torchy Bronx teenager in So Long, 174th Street before graduating to replacement leading lady stints in Cats, Evita and Sunset Blvd.

But in her delightfully quirky cabaret evening now playing at the Metropolitan Room, Next To Ab-Normal, Ackerman explains how, as the daughter of two of New York’s most prominent philanthropists (Her mother, Cyma Rubin, produced No, No, Nanette and Doctor Jazz on Broadway.), casual dinners with family friends might include passing the salt to Dennis Hopper or Leopold Stokowski.  (“I called him Skokie.")

Her funny anecdotes – like how Bobby Van inadvertently helped her lose her virginity – are accented with a collection of songs from her career and assorted American Songbook classics, charmingly sung with strong mellow vocals, accompanied by music director Paul Greenwood’s ensemble and directed by Barry Kleinbort.

“Crossword Puzzle,” which she introduced in David Shire and Richard Maltby, Jr.’s Starting Here, Starting Now, is given a stellar treatment as she recreates the breakdown of a neurotic New York woman who keeps intimidating her boyfriend with her advanced vocabulary.  And when she brings back Stan Daniels’ “Men,” her big So Long, 174th Street number where a frustrated teen recalls the boys that did her wrong, she pops in some of those high shrieks of adolescent angst that made her original performance so memorable.

Hugh Martin’s “The First Girl In The Second Row,” which introduces stories about her dubious career as an aspiring ballet dancer, is followed by a gentler moment, a lovely rendition of Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields’ “Pink Taffeta Sample, Size 10,” a ballad cut from Sweet Charity, that Ackerman first heard when the lyricist sang it at her home before taking the show for pre-Broadway tryouts.

While spending time in Paris (a good excuse for David Yazbek’s “Here I Am”) Ackerman was asked to translate the original French lyric for a Joe Ricotta melody, resulting in the dramatic ballad, “Come Back, My Love.”  She was told the song was being used for a film but she didn’t find out until later exactly what kind of film.

“My career with Andrew Lloyd Webber can be summed up in three hand gestures,” she quips, demonstrating the classic poses for Grizabella, Norma Desmond and Eva Peron before a dynamic medley of “Buenos Aires,” “New Ways To Dream” and “Memory.”

Married to sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ackerman says she’s happily settled into a more normal suburban life, but a visit to her abnormal past provides a perfectly charming evening.

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Posted on: Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 02:43 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Falling

When 18-year-old Josh pulls the string hanging from a box propped up on a shelf in his family’s living room, he gets showered with dozens of soft white feathers.  The mile-wide smile and limitlessly joyful expression on his face, and the happy tingle you can imagine must be tickling his body all over, tells you that playing with this homemade toy is something he does frequently to bring him comfort and momentary, completely innocent happiness.

And when Josh nearly chokes the life out of his mother, easily lifting her from the ground in his powerful arms and effortlessly dragging her across the room, it’s also something he has done before, though not as frequently.  The frightened expression on his face tells you he is defending himself against something he can’t comprehend, but as soon as he can be distracted with a puzzle or his beloved marbles, all fear is gone and his attention is focused on a new activity while his mother tries regaining her breath and puts her hands on the places where the new bruises will show up.

Josh is autistic and while his degree of autism may differ from that of others, playwright Deanna Jent has based her beautiful, heartbreaking, complex and desperately hopeful drama, Falling, on her experiences with her own autistic son.

Daniel Everidge, the actor who gives an outstanding performance as Josh, balancing the character’s pathos and unintentional menace, is an imposingly large and tall man who scoots about with a stiffened upper body and blurts out responses to questions in short sentences.  He can seem like a gentle angel when relaxed on the sofa watching his Jungle Book DVD until he starts masturbating to it.  Common noises like the blender running or a dog barking outside scare him into a panic and throughout the evening Everidge realistically keeps the audience braced for any unexpected reaction.

Jent says that Falling is about loving someone who is difficult to love.  Bearing the brunt of that difficulty is Josh’s mother Tami, rivetingly played by Julia Murney with a desperately weary cheerfulness.  Murney has made a career of giving excellent acting performances in musicals and while Falling doesn’t require her to sing, what makes her characterization so tragic is that Tami is continually required to give a performance for her son; making a happy game out of each everyday situation in order to keep Josh under control and quickly improvising to counter any resistance without scaring him into violent outbursts.

In many ways, Tami reacts like a victim of domestic abuse; turning to alcohol for quick comfort and being the first to defend her attacker when others fear for her safety.  Her obligation to love and protect her son outweighs any concern for herself and she rejects any intimacy with her husband, Bill (Daniel Pearce), who has also learned the routines of entertaining Josh in order to get through the day.  Their teenage daughter, Lisa (Jacey Powers), has given up trying to deal with her brother, afraid of his strength and resentful for being deprived of a normal childhood.

There’s no plot in Falling; just a finely detailed portrait of this family’s life played in ninety thoroughly intriguing, sometimes shocking, minutes.  What stands out about director Lori Adams’ subtle production is how the family members see the intricate system of code words and distractions they’ve developed to help handle Josh as just a normal part of everyday living.  They’ve been at this for so long that, instead of immediacy, we get the emotionless daily routine.  This is especially apparent after Bill manages to pacify his son and diffuse an attack on Tami.  It may seem like he doesn’t do enough to comfort her once the immediate threat is calmed, but most likely this has happened enough times that she has made it clear to him what she needs when this happens.

The play is set on a day when Bill’s mother, Grammy Sue (Celia Howard), comes for one of her infrequent visits.  Never having seen the fully-grown Josh in action, the character becomes the audience’s eyes and ears, taking in the experience for the first time and becoming a sounding board for Tami, Bill and Lisa to talk about home life issues and express their feelings.  Eventually, the playwright introduces a situation that allows them to think of how much happier they would be if Josh was no longer there; a thought that’s painful to consider, but understandable nevertheless.

Grammy Sue is established as someone who believes that prayer and the church can solve any problem, but Howard does a fine job in showing her gradual understanding of the situation’s complexities.  Pearce's Bill is determined to be a good father and husband, despite the fact that he receives little joy from family life and although Lisa has detached herself from any relationship with her brother, Powers keeps the character sympathetic as she yearns for a reasonable amount of parental attention.

With two memorable central performances, a very strong supporting cast and a script that earns every tear it jerks from you, Falling is one of the finest theatrical productions currently offered in New York.

Photos by Carol Rosegg:  Top:  Daniel Everidge and Julia Murney; Bottom: Daniel Pearce, Celia Howard, Daniel Everidge, Jacey Powers and Julia Murney.

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Posted on: Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 06:16 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Heresy

Stephen Sondheim’s “Uptown, Downtown,” that axed-from-Follies number about a woman who splits her personality between Schlitz and The Ritz, might well apply to the most recent plays of A.R. Gurney.

Uptown, in front of Primary Stages audiences at 59E59, Gurney presents civilized comedies drawn from his WASPy Buffalo upbringing.  But downtown at the Flea Theatre, he flicks satirical darts via near-futuristic fantasies.

There’s no great mystery as to where the playwright is headed in Heresy, his latest Flea offering, as soon as it’s revealed that parents named Mary and Joseph are trying to find out why their son Chris was arrested by Homeland Security.

The patient carpenter (Steve Mellor) and his take-charge wife (Annette O’Toole) arrive in a comfortably dignified setting known as the Liberty Lounge to try and get some information from the local prefect, who is also an old buddy named…  Well, let’s just say his nickname back in the day was Ponty (Reg E. Cathey).  Also along is Ponty’s boozy socialite wife, Phyllis (Kathy Najimy), a character you might consider an illegal alien who has crossed the 14th Street border from one of Gurney’s uptown plays.  (The very amusing Najimy has already left the play to take some television work, and has been replaced by Karen Ziemba.)

Taking notes of the meeting is a young, efficient orderly named Mark (Tommy Crawford), freely adapting what he sees and hears into his own story-telling style.  Eventually we meet Pedro (Danny Rivera) and Lena (Ariel Woodiwiss), whose relationships with the never-seen Chris draw the expected parallels.

There are enough funny lines in the script and clever moments in director Jim Simpson’s production to carry us to the thinly sliced meat of the matter; that Chris was videoed preaching some radical notions and it went viral on the internet, prompting a need to hide him someplace, as they say, for his own safety.

Fortunately, Gurney doesn’t slam us too severely with his message and the 80-minute piece comes off like an extended post-Weekend Update SNL sketch.  But the cast seems to be having a fun time with it and audiences who enjoy their mindless fun mixed with a bit of cautionary tale can do likewise.

Photos by Hunter Canning: Top:  Reg E. Cathey, Annette O'Toole and Danny Rivera; Bottom:  Steve Mellor, Kathy Najimy and Reg E. Cathey.

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Posted on: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 @ 02:02 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Broadway Grosses: Week Ending 10/14/12 & Theatre Quote of the Week

 

“We've all been called man-haters. There was one point in my career, also, where I realized a certain breed of critic would project a sinister breed of feminism on everything I did.”

-- Theresa Rebeck

The grosses are out for the week ending 10/14/2012 and we've got them all right here in BroadwayWorld.com's grosses section.

Up for the week was: EVITA (6.7%), CYRANO DE BERGERAC (2.4%), ONCE (0.5%), WICKED(0.1%),

Down for the week was: BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL (-20.6%), THE HEIRESS (-12.0%), ANNIE (-10.3%), MAMMA MIA! (-10.0%), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (-9.6%), GRACE (-6.9%), CHICAGO (-5.4%), MARY POPPINS (-4.6%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-4.2%), NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (-3.7%), CHAPLIN (-3.0%), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (-2.8%), AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (-2.5%), WAR HORSE (-2.1%), JERSEY BOYS (-1.9%), THE LION KING (-0.8%), SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK (-0.3%), ROCK OF AGES (-0.1%),

Posted on: Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 03:25 PM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback


Him

I’ll spare you any idioms regarding the distance between apples and trees while examining the newest work of Daisy Foote, the playwright who carries on the lineage of one of America’s treasured dramatist, the late Horton Foote.  But comparison is inevitable as the daughter’s most recent work has a similar voice to that of her father; just differently accented.

Daisy Foote’s Him may be set in rural New Hampshire, as opposed to Horton Foote’s preferred locale of East Texas, but there is still the same kind of comic/tragic family politics afoot.  And the playwright’s sister, Hallie Foote, who made a career out of giving memorable performances in their father’s works, plays a juicy role very similar to the type she’s feasted on in the past.

This time Foote appears as Pauline, the eldest of three siblings living together in a home adjacent to the family’s financially failing grocery store.  Never married and haunted by thoughts of her stillborn child from years ago, Pauline has filled in for her deceased mother in being the adult around her brothers.  She does have her fun, girlish moments when going out with the youngest, Henry (Tim Hopper), a gay man with no romantic prospects in their small town and little motivation in life, but she’s all authority when trying to keep cheerful and carefree mentally challenged middle child Farley (Adam LeFevre) out of trouble.  When she’s not looking, though, Farley impregnates his similarly challenged friend, Louise (Adina Verson).

The title character is their dying father who remains unseen in his room, having suffered a stroke, but each of his children has a moment reciting a passage from his journal, revealing family history and secrets to the audience.

The main friction arises because Pauline, the only one prepared to manage the family’s dwindling finances, wants to build on the land she and her brothers inherit once their father dies, but Henry can legally stand in the way, wishing to adhere to the man’s wish that the mountain land be kept in its natural splendor.

Director Evan Yionoulis’ sturdy production is well-played by a strong ensemble, but the play is too slow in introducing and developing its primary conflict and there is a noticeable lack of empathy for anyone in the quartet.  There’s a bit of humor in the family portrait, but no warmth or dramatic crackle in a story that fails to match its interesting possibilities.

Photos by James Leynse:  Top: Hallie Foote and Tim Hopper; Bottom: Adina Verson and Adam LeFevre.

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Posted on: Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 10:07 AM Posted by: Michael Dale | Leave Feedback




About Michael: After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Shea Stadium pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.
 
   
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