BWW Review: THE BEST OF EVERYTHING at 2ND STORY THEATRE
THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, a 2012 play by Julie Kramer based on a 1959 novel by Rona Jaffe and definitely not a comedy, breaks up a run of comedies at 2nd Story Theatre going back months and months. Jaffe's novel follows the struggles of six women working in a fictional publishing company in Manhattan. Julie Kramer's adaptation faithfully captures Jaffe's examination of the personal and professional struggles the women face in their male-dominated world. Critic Elyse Sommer noted that the TV series Mad Men had an episode showing anti-hero Don Draper reading a copy of Rona Jaffe's novel. No wonder: Draper the ad man was interested in what people want, and here we have a novel about what women want. As much as Mad Men focused on the male hierarchy, on Jillian Eddy's simple but evocative set, and in a well-paced one hour and forty minutes, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING keeps its focus the women's place in the office and the world.
So who are the women of Fabian publishing, and what do they want? Caroline (2nd story newcomer Kerry Giorgi) and Amanda (Rae Mancini)-are the two characters the most focused on their careers with mixed results. April (Melanie Stone) and Gregg (Valerie Westgate) are more focused on their social lives, with even more mixed results. Brenda (Rachael Perry) and Mary Agnes (Jennifer Michaels) are fixated on their upcoming marriages, and they do not seem to bat a thousand either. The women are joined by several male office characters, all played by David Nando Rodgers--more of an anyman than an everyman--and Eddie Harris (David Sackal), the man who broke off his engagement to Caroline to marry someone else. She cannot get him out of her mind until he reveals himself to be a complete jerk at the last.
There is a lot to like in this production. First of all, Kerry Giorgi never misses a beat as the central character, Caroline. I think she was on stage the entire time, and we see all the characters in relation to her. Giorgi is more than up to it. Valerie Westgate as Gregg had the chance to sing Billie Holiday's "Good Morning, Heartache," and nailed it. Melanie Stone makes us believe April's moves from open-hearted rube to cynic and back to open hearted. Both Perry and Michaels deliver as the superficial brides to be. On a down note, Mancini needed her Amanda to be a little nastier and, unfortunately, flubbed a few lines.
Speaking of the dance party, someone-I'm guessing director Kira Hawkridge--has assembled a playlist for this piece that ranges fro Glenn Miller to Mumford and Sons to Peggy Lee and which really knits the piece together.
I wonder if Don Draper liked the book. Bet you like the play
THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Julie Kramer, adapted from the novel by Rona Jaffe and directed by Kira Hawkridge runs Upstage May 5 thru 28. Performances are at 7:30 Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30. Running time is an hour and forty minutes with an intermission. If you are interested in talking about the play, a post play discussion is scheduled after the matinee May 14. Tickets are $35.00, $25.00 for anyone twenty-five or younger, and $20.00 for those who have the foresight to go on preview weekend (too late for this show). 2nd Story Theatre is located at 28 Market St. in Warren. The box office can be reached at 401. 247. 4200 or at www.2ndStoryTheatre.com. The venue is handicap accessible with lovely accessible bathrooms on both floors. Has a nice bar, too.