BWW Reviews: VANYA AND SONYA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Paper Mill Wonderfully Funny and Insightful

BWW Reviews:  VANYA AND SONYA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Paper Mill Wonderfully Funny and Insightful

"If everyone took antidepressants, Chekhov would have nothing to write about."

-Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike

Six individuals with distinctive personalities come together for an exceptionally entertaining comedy in Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike now at Paper Mill Playhouse through February 15th. This Tony Award winning play will have you laughing out loud. Yet it has some serious undertones that make you think deeply about the characters and their futures. Gather your group (of adults) and see this wonderful production on the Millburn stage.

Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet life in the Pennsylvania farmhouse where they were raised. The two wonder if life has passed them by as they cared for their aging parents. When their movie star sister, Masha comes to visit the family home with her young, attractive boyfriend, the peace is disturbed. Rivalries and regret give way to a raucous romp.

This is a brilliantly crafted story by playwright, Christopher Durang. He has put comical yet insightful spins on sibling relationships and family life. The direction by Don Stephenson is inspired as each scene captures just the right mood for this fine theatrical piece.

Each and every member of this stellar cast delivers a dynamic performance. Carolyn McCormick plays Masha, a vain, beautiful actress. She steals the scene when she plans to attend a local costume party as Disney's Snow White and insists that her siblings dress as dwarfs. Gina Daniels is ideal as the high-spirited clairvoyant housekeeper, Cassandra. Philippe Bowgen as Spike is truly hilarious with his "reverse strip tease" and endless athletic energy. Sonya, played by Michele Pawk gives a compelling performance as she struggles with her yearnings for a future. Yet she is totally clever and charming when she selects her own glamorous dress for the costume party. Jamie Ann Romero is perfect as Nina, the sweet, optimistic and supportive neighbor. Mark Nelson plays the role of Vanya impeccably, a consistently appealing, thoughtful character. And it is his final soliloquy discussing societal changes that you will long remember. Throughout Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, you will wonder about the fate of the characters and you will come to care about them. It is a rich play, a comedy with real heart.

The rustic house setting provides just the right background for everyone's comings and goings in the show. And it is the design team that gives the perfect sense of country life with scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by Stephen Terry, and original music and sound design by Mark Bennett, hair and wig design by Leah J. Loukas, scenic coordination by Amanda Stephens and casting by Telsey and Company.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday through February 15th. Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased by calling (973) 376-4343, at the Paper Mill Box Office ast 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn or online at www.PaperMill.org.

PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Murphy

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From This Author Marina Kennedy

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