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The Chiselers: You Don't Have To Watch Dynasty

For those missing the 1980s with their campy nighttime soaps like Dynasty and Dallas, Mark Finley has supplied The Chiselers, a humorous take on the genre, presented by Emerging Artists Theater as part of its Spring 2009 EATfest.

The story of the twisted lives of Margo Carstairs (Karen Stanion), the foremost ice sculptor of Sacramento; her meddling mother Beverly Carstairs (Marie Wallace) who manipulates her into marrying reporter Chuck Hutchinson (Thomas Poarch); their daughter Connie Carstairs (Andrea Alton); and professional lover Julian Kerr (Nick Mathews), is told simply and hilariously. In flashback, Margo tells the audience-as-jury the story of her life, leading up to the murder of her husband. Finley's snappy dialogue is never short of one-liners, and the cast lands them perfectly. In some ways the show is reminiscent of Absolutely Fabulous or the work of Charles Busch (particularly Die, Mommie, Die!), but it has its own story and flair.

I've never seen Karen Stanion give a bad performance, and here she sparkles, gorgeously mining the broad comedy of a comedy of broads for every laugh. Marie Wallace (of television's Dark Shadows fame) is perfectly suited to the soap opera genre, and plays a conniving bitch to the hilt. One might think that as the mousy Connie, Andrea Alton would be left behind, but she garners even more laughs with her teen angst and burgeoning sexuality. Thomas Poarch is a fine straight man, transitioning well from naïve optimist to corrupt businessman through the course of the play. Nick Mathews is handsome and lascivious as gigolo Julian, at one point managing to upstage the action with some amusingly flexed glutes.

Melissa Attebery directs with the quick pace the play needs, and wisely replaces all the liquids in the play with confetti, for some great sight gags.

Really the only problem with the play was that it was only just a little over an hour, not much of a full evening (it played at 9:30pm) though I can see it would be difficult to pair the show with anything else.

THE CHISELERS runs February 26, 2009-March 7, 2009, Thursday through Saturday at 9:30pm. TADA Theatre is located at 15 West 28th St, 2nd Floor, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Closest subway: N, R to 28th
Street. Tickets are $18, available at 866-811-4111 or


Promo Photo is Nick Mathews, Marie Wallace, Amy Bizjak, Thomas Poarch, and Karen Stanion


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Duncan Pflaster is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced all over. He also has been known to direct, write music, play the ukulele, (read more...)