BWW Review: THE HEIDI CHRONICLES at Rep Stage - A classic Play Gets Revisited
Take a trip in time as you revisit the 1950's to the 1980's with the music of each era to help with the journey (thank you Sound Designer Sarah O'Halloran) with THE HEIDI CHRONICLES at Rep Stage.
I enjoyed seeing the original Broadway cast which not only won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1989 but also the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for playwright Wendy Wasserstein.
When the title character Heidi talks about Eugene McCarthy running for President, I recall like it was yesterday attending his political rally at Fenway Park in Boston before thousands. So this play has a meaning for my wife and I that others may not have.
Heidi Holland is a Professor of Art and the play begins when she is giving a lecture. On the Broadway stage, the artwork was displayed by using huge slides of the artwork on the rear of the stage. Rep Stage chose to present this piece in the round so how is the Director Jenna Duncan to accomplish this feat? By using an overhead slide projector and using the floor to show the audience the artwork. I always have problems with shows in the round, including Washington's Arena Stage, for whenever an actor has their back to me, I have a hard time hearing them. And that was the case here as well. It also diminishes the view of the beautiful artwork.
But Duncan has assembled a superb cast and she works wonders with them. Alina Collins Maldonado plays Fran with gusto. She's an admitted lesbian whose mantra is "You either shave your legs or you don't. She also plays well other roles.
Heidi's love interest is Scoop Rosenbaum, a successful lawyer played by the very likeable Rex Daugherty and you root for this couple to get together.
Watching Rep Stage Artistic Director Joseph W. Ritsch return to his acting roots (he actually played the character HEDWIG in HEDWIG AND THE ANGY INCH) as an Italian gay pediatrician and was such a joy to watch. Ritsch may have to re-evaluate his profession as a director after this incredible display.
But the show thrives in the capable hands of Beth Hylton (a member of the Everyman Theatre Company) who is just plain magnificent in the complex role of Heidi. She just takes over the stage wherever she conveying the difficulties of being a woman in this era. Whether she is uncomfortable meeting men, becoming a successful art historian, or sharing the anguish of just being a woman, Hylton is the quintessential actress and is always a joy to watch on stage.
Rounding out the capable cast are Madeline Rose Burrows, Hallie Cooper, Melissa Flaim and Anderson Wells.
Kudos to Costume Designer Eric Abele for letting us know the era via his clothing. Check out his fabulous work currently at the Everyman Theatre in M.BUTTERFLY. There is terrific lighting by Adam Mendelson and minimalist Set Design by James Fouchard.
I highly recommend the "Audience Guide" available on line (www.repstage.org) which adds greatly to the enjoyment of the evening.
THE HEIDI CHRONICHLES is a nice addition to the Rep Stage season. It runs until September 24, 2017 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College. Call 443-518 -1500 for tickets
Next up is the fabulous LADY DAY AT THE EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL about the great Billie Holiday. It runs November 2 until November 19, 2017.