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December 18, 2002

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October 15, 2001



Stage Pages


Issue:  March/April, 2003


Constructive Critic

Sherry Braun

We are back for more reviews, and mini-reviews, of the latest festival. Congratulations to all participants. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing. I have tried to credit as many people as I could as time (in my schedule) permits. If you get a short review, the reason has only to do with my demands and deadlines that week -- not my interest in your project. I have also credited the sponsoring company in parentheses next to the title.


INFORMATION, PLEASE! (Tribe Productions)

Production designs by Studio 31 are clean and neat. The set looks great in this black box venue. Costumes are a delightful throw-back to the 70s. Music took me back! This original one-act play makes a full evening and is a perfect date play for a man and a woman. We can laugh at these characters and love them at the same time. Guys -- or hockey fans, period -- can also relate to the character of George getting his hand on the famous mask belonging to a player.

Ryan Pifher plays George, a man falling fast in love with Katie (Karson St. John) and "out" with Rita (Sara Shaning), not because Katie's the one with the mask; but the symbol of the mask, like everything, seems to point to the fact that George and Katie are destined to be together. Pifher is a riseable performer and an extremely funny leading man -- self-effacing and sexy at the same time.

Just as soon as I thought that I had fallen in love with female protagonist St. John -- and that no other woman could steal my affections away from her -- that's when Shaning entered and swept me away as well. The chemistry between the two women is pure comedy.

J.C. Svec has written another great play with Information Please! His Katie is a beautifully normal girl spurned in love; and Rita is an uptight square. George is caught between two good women who grow to like each other. In fact, with credit to the writer, all of the characters turn out terrifically respectful to each other. For example, Rita actually makes a case that Katie is perfect for George and practically pushes them together. And for Rita's reward, something really exciting happens to her. But don't think that this reviewer is going to tell you. But it is adventurous; and each and every person gets what he/she needs. Just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Svec also finely directs these actors to take their time and mine the material for all of the humor present in facial reactions and body language. By the way, this play might have been done as a bench play. Minimalism could definitely serve this play. But, that's not the style of this veteran director who always has good production values. Here there is a realistic pay phone with the rings coming from it (no recording). There is also a realistic street light, fire hydrant and a theatrical cut-out of a storefront. Right on!



Spotlight On Festival at Chashama brings Hector Lugo's new full-length play, Michael Doesn't Live Here Anymore, directed by Steven Thornburg. Billed as a drama, I am happy to report that there is also comedy and humanity. All of the characters go somewhere: friends and strangers come together to assist, fight, heal and teach each other.

First, the play is about Mickie (Andrew Rothkin) who once was Michael -- until her sex-change operation. Dramatized before our eyes is a very short section that one expects when boyfriend Bruce (Anthony Amen) protests that he fell in love with a man and says that he is against such drastic measures. But then he comes around, and the play grooves into many other issues which neatly tie together. There is little predictability. The production moves forth like a movie script, changing to many locales with smooth and quick transitions which allow the focus to stay on the story. We meet Andrew (Cyrus Shams) -- best friend to Mickie -- and Steven (Tate Ellington), with whom Andrew falls in love. Paying a surprise visit to Mickie is her angry younger brother, Danny (Brendan Burke), estranged for 12 years. He "gets his" by outing the "freaks" on national television despite the best efforts of a kindly neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Fishman (Jack Merlis). All of the women (B. Drum Sullivan) are played by one actress changing costumes, hair and mannerisms.

It's the unexpectant twists and turns which are the true drama, humor, poignancy and emotional release. The audience sees a chain reaction: Mickie confronts Andrew; Steven loves Andrew; Andrew gives an intervention to Steven; Fishman gets through to Danny, etc. All of the characters grow. The effect is pure magic -- like a heightened FRIENDS episode combined with TORCH SONG TRILOGY.

All of the players are supremely loveable. Rothkin gives a believable performance as a truly noble heroine: loyal, nurturing and grounded. Shams deftly evolves from an ungrounded mess into a hero in his own right. Amen is strong and sweet as the macho Italian lover. Burke is spot-on as a young and swaggering rebel. Merlis is perfectly funny and poignant. Sullivan is a master of comedy. And Ellington is a star: one in the same time commanding and unassuming.

Lugo's play is beautifully relevant when it touches on issues such as true friends, the twin towers, war, identity, A.I.D.S., and terrorism. These themes never seem gratuitous or out of place and, remarkably, seem connected to show the influence a single person can have upon another.

By Thornburg's skillful direction, Michael... is a theatrical crescendo, both physically and vocally. The pacing and blocking are good, allowing the emotions to sneak up on the audience. There are many highlights, such as the Nurse's clinic scene, Steven's emotional breakdown, and the ending (when the stage becomes a tableau, momentarily, and then one suddenly realizes that the characters are speaking intimately to the audience).

The set (uncredited) is only functional with wise placement of furniture and clever use of a tall platform. Lighting (Jim Stewart) is even and atmospheric. Costumes (Antoinette Martinez) match the characters perfectly, with a nice use of color. The lighting and sound technicians (Gillian and Sherrian Felix) deftly execute the show; and the crew on the floor invisibly set the scenes without holding back the pace of the action. Stage management by Edward Ellsworth II.

GOLEM STORIES (FHB Theater Productions)

Edward Einhorn has skillfully written a fairy tale and love story for adults. His writing gives the players great opportunities, such as Rifka's fake mad scene which is executed with great aplomb. The style is an absurd fantasy; and as the best of the absurd genre, more than a hint of truth is borrowed from the real world.

One of the most famous golem legends has Rabbi Loew creating a man out of clay to help save the Jews of Prague from the blood libel. (The blood libel is the belief that Jews used the blood of Christian children for matzos.) During this time (16th century), King Rudolf of the Austrian Empire abolished many superstitious laws which banned Jews from trade and did not allow them fair trials.

While some writers have black-outs punctuating scenes, Einhorn is lucky enough to have eerie music and highly theatrical lighting which illuminate each tableau, leading logically onward to the next unveiling. The woman responsible for these effects is Glory Sims Bowen, easily one of the best directors working at Spotlight On currently. She also finds firm comedy and brings out the best in the performers by giving them something to do. One priceless example is the Rabbi and the King scene with the books. Bowen has brought to this production many skillful collaborators.

And collaborate is the word. Obviously, a great deal of thought has gone into every element. The cast members are also credited in capacities such as props design, costume assistant design, set dressings, press kits, program design, web design, and the like. Bowen has cleverly maximized the resources in the company -- which is why the product looks first-rate.

Every element is telling, from the bloodied costumes (Michael Pietkowski) to the "surprising" chairs. From the stark lighting (Aaron J. Mason), blazing through the carefully constructed set (Nicole Frankel), to the music (Christopher Brooks) which evokes another land, another culture, and another time. Then there are the actors who work together as an ensemble, smoothly executing blocking that often looks like choreography -- such as the section which leads into the golem magically coming to life.

Emphasized in this production is the universality of the people, rather than the exact dialects. In fact, most of the cast speaks in Standard American, except for the Rabbi with Standard British. The setting is Prague; and yet we are subliminally reminded of the 21st century's Bush/Blair pairing. This production reminds us of the universal truth of how a culture can resort to fear, label another group, and cause great harm. There is much to ponder. Do we see, anywhere in the world, a governing body restricting whole groups of people? Or how about somebody setting somebody up by dropping a slaughtered body on the doorstep and blaming it on somebody else?

The reality of world events can be unwelcome; and yet Golem Stories is welcome. It's as easy to enjoy as the tale of Frankenstein -- which is another one that originated in the golem legends. This play is even thrilling to children -- on another level -- for the laughs and the novelty.

To tell the truth, I hardly thought of the exterior world while watching the play because I was far too entertained with the poetic and humorous portraits drawn by a lovely cast: Ben Hindell (Isaac); Yvonne Roen (Devorah); Gina Stec (Rifka); and Maxwell Zener (Moshe). Ian Fleet (Rabbi) and Hanna Hayes (Rebbetsin) are a nice pairing, bringing commitment to the proceedings. Brian Glaser (Joseph/Golem) makes the man of clay a quick learner with innocence and wit. Harry Klein (King Rudolph) is very funny and sets just the right tone as the superstitious monarch. And, finally, Michael Whitney (Thaddeus) is outstanding in his pious character who turns out to be the real evil-doer.

Lauren Popper: Assistant Director; Luciano Fontanez: Technical Director; Thom Sibbit and Jay Sterkel: Set Construction; Karene Morris: Stage Manager; Berit Johnson: Light Board Operator.



Author Daniel Haben Clark recently produced another of his plays, Tiny Tim and the Size Queen. I liked it very much. It was a humorous play, neatly staged on a one-unit set -- simple and yet elegant; and the staging allowed the actors and the plot to unfold cohesively. For his latest venture, Rosaries and Vodka, the audience has to work too hard to come away with a sense of having been altered or having learned something.

There is upstaging of the worst order when the movement of props and furniture steal the focus over the lovely acting. This play has about 24 scenes and practically a scene change for each (sets by Gaspar Klammer, III). The audience really doesn't care which way the table is angled or where the phone is as long as we can get lost for several minutes and believe that it is a phone and not simply a phone handle. Likewise, our "suspension of disbelief" flies when we see actors doing scenes about alcoholism with communal glasses of liquor that are empty.

There are merits to the writing: dramatic conflict, real characters, tender motives and honest goals. The plot is really about the Roman Catholic Church messing up our lives over the centuries. There are scenes which slip backward out of the 20th century and into other centuries where we meet several church figures -- all played by the author. They are humorous satire of the modernist type, wherein the actor speaks directly to the audience. They are meant to lighten the otherwise heavy drama of a realistic style. During these times, the author is joined onstage by the man who moves the tables and chairs (Carl Owens). Now he has an acting role. But, strangely, he is not lighted nearly as well as when he moves the furniture, or when he announces the scenes.

Dramaturgy is needed, simply. Haben-Clark is also a film-maker; and he has written a screenplay here. I can visualize the movie: Each time a scene shifts locale, I see a title flashing under it, "Seaside, 1945." On the stage, however, I cannot accept Owens doing it -- because there is nothing dramatic, or telling. Nothing evokes emotion in the mere announcement of the time and place. And I am not convinced, as of yet, that it should become a new theatrical custom.

That there is a talented cast deserves repeating; and Clark has directed them into specific performances; and most actors play multiple roles with agility. Some of my favorites include: the very likeable Laurie Baker (Mrs. Murphy, Lady Eve, Letticia) and Matthew Baker (Mr. Murphy, Kent, Ned); a very handsome and beautiful leading man and lady, Tom Bass ( Lewis, Ted Simpson, Ned) and Amy Rilling (Posey Malone); and a funny and sexy-cute Martin Nolan (Jack, Pierre Lapin, Omar, Sonny), who gives us a nice pay-off in the last scenes by revealing near nudity. Throughout the play, Nolan clowns around in good featured roles such as Lapin and Sonny. Others nicely rounding out the cast are Maria Olivares (Isela, Carmen, Lupe, Mercedes, Lorraine), whose physical agility and sensuousness are pleasing in multiple roles, and the solid Colleen Crawford (Ellaine Foley) and Karl Itzkowitz (Gus, Caryl, Vikto).

There is gorgeous music and a nice sound design which accompany the play (Robert Torres). Costumes (Klutz of Vienna) work sensibly and aesthetically.


WILD & DEVIANT WOMEN (Conn Artist Performance Event)

Karen Maloney has directed a production which is lovely in simplicity -- in the best sense of the word. There are six monologues which are presented by four ladies. They are designed to be booked for touring, in whole or in part, in many venues. That is why the minimalist production values serve it. (No lighting cross-fades and no sound -- except what comes from a boom box.) The actresses step in and out of the light when they transition from one monologue to the next. On a design note, the costumes (un-credited) are attractive and appropriate.

My favorite piece is probably Cooking With Typhoid Mary, written by Carolyn Gage and performed by Annie Hart Cool. This lady is a natural, even while playing with the audience and reveling in the late-comers who are utilized to great humor. This is well-placed as the opener. Cool neatly packages it with the right amount of sitting, standing and talking. By the end of her text, she has packed up her props and left without missing a beat.

Maloney steps onstage in Calamity Jane Sends a Message To Her Daughter (by Gage), poignant in her male-identified personna. Without artifice, she balances herself out with just the right toughness and motherly tenderness.

All this while, I have thought that a dapper man sits in one of the seats off the stage watching the show. Turns out it is Marjorie Conn in drag as Lorena Hickok in Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt's Lesbian Lover (compiled by Conn from writings by Pat Bond and Conn). Another of my favorites, Conn can always be counted on for her gift of drama and history without ever seeming preachy or teachy. She has fun; and we do too.

Madame Tabasco, written and directed by Deanna Fraschilla, is the weakest solo. This is the first time music is used, and the actress does not project over it. She could probably do without it and just "act" as if she dances to music which she hears. However, Fraschilla's comedy and authority are good. I'd like to see more of her in the future.

Miss Lizzie A. Borden Invites You To Tea, written and performed by Conn, is a perfect excert (re-compiled with a beginning, middle and end) from a full-length piece which I saw at the last festival. This is another opportunity for Conn to show that she brilliantly understands pace. I would, however, like to see just how far Conn can go to let us see a little of the pain which she must have gone through in her life, as everybody has. Her characterizations tend to be blocking/denying the pain. They are living at a point after the drama -- when they are self-actualized, or at least when they have already thought it out. She can take a moment once in a while to heighten emotion, realization, or pathos.

This brings us to the final act, Grandma Gertie, written and performed by Cool. Did I say that this dramatist is a good writer? Very humorous and interesting! She also has a dynamite Irish dialect, which I guess is borrowed from Gertie.

There are many outstanding parts to Wild and Deviant Women, especially when the writing gives the actresses something strong to want or to do -- find the bastard, defend or justify 'self, remember the relationship, get over regrets.



This production is an evening of good-hearted sketch comedy from a gifted group of writers and comedian-actors, Ken Scudder, Kim Chaskel, Andrew Martin Arnold, Jay Colligan, Maggie Justice and Gabrielle Gold. Steve Weintraub provides memorable and innovative sound design.. Hot on the heels of one of their first forays (as this group) into the genre for Spotlight On, Boo!, they here present something nearly as hysterical. They do it with monologues, sketches and music!

All of the performers are technically adept. However, a stand-out is Arnold, a comic possessing as much flexibility as any out there at the moment. I remember his hit-and-miss act from several years ago when he was less experienced and less commanding. Here he presents a range of rhythms, such as the Brit in "British Porn" and the Italian man on the street in "The Response." Kudos! And likeable in the extreme, Scudder and Colligan deserve to get their own talk show (separately or together). Move over Letterman and Leno.

Chaskel and Gold are great together in "Zip Code." The act climaxes with "Star Trek 2, The Wrath of Khan, the Musical," where Justice is hilarious as a singer at a backer's audition. The cast does a superb job. With that kind of commitment, they might get somebody to give their backer's audience a production.


MEDIEVAL (K)NIGHTS (Cuchipinoy Productions)

Directed by Mario Corrales and Rodney L. Reyes, this production is a very clever comedy by a talented young group, many of who hail from Rutgers University. They put to good use their tapestries, painted booth, paper crowns and bright costumes . They also create a pre-show in the lobby which makes a theme restaurant spring to life. These talented Cuchipinoy artistic directors (Corrales, Reyes and Jonathan Calindas) utilize the venue and the resources which are specific to it in a clever manner.

The production is comprised of 4 shorts, the longest of which is Medieval (K)nights, by Rodney L. Reyes. The acting style is in one realm. While some broad characters are presented, all of the odd people are living in the same universe. Exaggerated, yes (eg, the nerds); but we have known them. Some favorites are Reyes (Stan), Eze P. Ihenetu (Little Stanley), Marlon Correa (Mikey, Thunder), Anthony Go (Van Halen), Rob Moretti (Jack), Dawn Slegona (Mona, Shelly, Joan) and Daniel Roach (Announcer/King).

The other 3 shorts, by Elias Stimac, are very witty: Jack & Jill, Snickerdoodle, and This & That. The actors and directors make risky choices, which the audience appreciates. For example, Patrick Annelli portrays, with mime, a door and a fridge in Snickerdoodle and the bear rug (to comic effect) in This & That. The talented Dawn Slegona and Daniel Roach stand out with Stimac's fancy word-play in Snickerdoodle.

The scene changes to each are efficient and set to good music. Stage Managers: Sarah Darnsteadt and Liza Hataf; Carpenter: Michel Cuillerier; Scenic Arist: Rachael Barba; Set Design: M. Corrales; Board Op: S. Darnsteadt; Audio Op: J. Calindas; Prop Mistress: Allison Lepelletier; Ushers: Lepelletier, Justin Bruno and Lillian Ribeiro. Program/Postcard Design: Juan Aycart.


LOVE IS KICKING MY BEHIND (Black Phoenix Productions, D'Skye Management, and Kidd & Play Productions)

Beware of showcases where one man is Writer/Producer/Director/Star. This project by Alix Jean-Francois is just the very product of that formula. He has attempted to create a funny evening which parodies the extremes of dating and relationships. And the writing could succeed, given what Jean-Francois has created -- and also by his own sense of the comic style. However, the problem is a huge series of under-rehearsed scenes broken up by interminably long scene changes. The effect feels like there is no objective viewer laying down the law.

Technically, the execution of the scene changes does not seem planned or rehearsed. Scenes alternate: couch, beauty parlour, couch, beauty parlour, couch, etc. Instead of a unit set arrangement, this producer has opted for the awkward scene changes which one man alone often does. Literally, a couch is dragged/scraped across the floor by one individual. No decent sound level is set, and the music blasts our ear-drums.

The acting styles are all over the place. It seems they are going for broad humor which breaks the fourth wall and more than occasionally speaks directly to the audience. All of the actors have talent and moments; and, as a whole, the cast has a very "character- actor" look which I love. Unfortunately, they are allowed to mug shamelessly; and the style and pace slow when some of them are uncertain of their lines. The actors who best succeed are Shaniq Garner (Sheniqua) and Jean-Francois (Ennis) -- both with keen timing and style -- and also Kelly Ho (Cheryl), grounded in a sarcastic and dry demeanor. Denyse Kidd (Bula May) dons a funny costume and annoying voice that has great potential if she wouldn't over-act so intensely in the early scenes before she becomes the beautiful swan. At this transformation, she steps into a vocal compromise that would be more believable in the beginning also -- and be much funnier. Personally, I am less likely to laugh if I am telegraphed, "This is funny." If you take me by surprise, comedy often arises from the situation.

Some of the other stand-outs are Natasha Smith Dargan, Joseph Phillips, Ronald Douglass, Bernell Colter, Jabal Tate, Asun Peterson, Nicholl Jones, and the dance (energetic choreography by Prince Hairston). Writer/Director/Producer: Alix Jean-Francois; Costume Coordination : Shaniq Garner; Exec. Producers: Kelly Ho, Bernell Colter, Denyse Kidd, Alix Jean-Francois.



Haiku (by Katherine Snodgrass) is a gentle and poetic one-act play about the possibility of miracles. A door can open even for an autistic individual so that her wit can shine through in those moments. It's also about the faith a loved one can provide to collaborate on these miracles. Nell (Joan Slavin) takes dictation from her autistic child, Louise (Marci Occhino), and publishes her poetry. Another daughter, Billie (Lynda Green), doubts the sibling's improvement and suspects the mother of denial. In the end, through perseverance, a window of opportunity comes to confirm Nell's mysterious claim. Louise speaks with clarity and ease. Hope lives -- a nice message in any time.

The writing gradually discloses a poignant family drama; and we care for each character equally, a credit to three stunning actresses and Anthony Ciccotelli (Director). The white wicker furnishings and window frame (Matthew Jago, Jr. and Slavin) create a Brechtian staging that is warm and comforting.

The Playground (by A. J. Wrath), a surreal piece, is of a common theme as Haiku, -- with Luke (W. Allen Wrede) and Lydia (Marci Occhino) serving as angels for each other's healing. In fact, we aren't so sure if they are not instruments for Lydia's parents, Nadia (Randi Sobol) and Craig (Joe Novellino), as well. Nay, I'll go so far as to say that Wrath's metaphysical / life and death message is that the entire world (world = playground) has hope for all -- if we can just wrestle around long enough and look through our handicaps to accept the world for nothing less than what we can make of it.

Ciccotelli transforms, en vista, the setting from autumn's fallen leaves to spring's flowers. Likewise, the costumes (Julia Lintern) move from winter's rain coats to Spring's fairy tale. Wrede's charm and healing voice are stand-outs. Occhino triumphs, again, with a different handicap. Novellino and Sobol are also lovely as a maturing couple trying to hammer it out with grace and wit.

Stage Manager: R.A. Guirand; Light Design: Scott James; Sound: Sherrian Felix; Sets/Props: Jago, Jr. and Slavin; Producers: Anthony Ciccotelli, Joan Slavin and Matthew Jago, Jr.

FISH AND CHIPS (Spotlight On)

Malcolm Gordon is an amazing entertainer of the old fashioned variety: a gentleman who can dance, act and sing in multiple styles, voices and personas. Fish and Chips is a museum piece, re-creating the English music hall revue. Mr. Gordon is accompanied by Robert Rogers on piano. This musician is so good with Gordon that the material is elevated to a duet. These two gentlemen do not miss a beat. The energy is relaxed and yet electric!

One has the feeling of learning so much during the course of the concert. But, if that were all that Mr. Gordon offered, it wouldn't be enough. The musicality and technical proficiency is invigorating. The pleasure that Gordon takes in it is exciting. And the physicality in his body is a gift.

I find merit in all of the selections performed. However, some of the favorites are a poem, "My Mother Doesn't Know I'm On The Stage," and the "Albert and the Lion" monologues. Also, the Cockney Medley is delightful, with my favorite for sentimentality being, "Harry...Marry." In the Pub Medley, one particular stand-out is "Her Mother Comes Too" because of the lovely suspense in the story and the witty play on words which is the pay-off. And, finally, the Bullfighter piece is classic. Did I say, yet, that the poems and monologues are so exquisitely interpreted that they seem to be music to my ears, as well as the -- well -- as well as the music?

Visually, Jim Stewart provides a dazzling set, complete with footlights!

If this review seems to be a love note, I guess it is. Congratulations for a job well done. Sorry...I guess I should simply say, "Bravo."



Wisdom..., written by Ted Williams, has a marvelous set that looks like it was brought directly from the Pines by a gay male -- in white and silver with white fairy lights and a fireplace which dims. In this festival event, Director (Stephen Nisbet) and Associate Director (Randy Gener) bring us cocktails which have ice and the smell of what I believe to be pine oil. I guess all of this is appropriate, given it is a play about gay men in the country.

Williams presents struggling lovers, Bart (Stephen Nesbit) and Steven (Dennis Demitry), and a guest named Hugh (Eric Rath) -- a rival to Steven. Jealousy and doubts build in the setting of a formal dinner party. Finally, Henry (Debargo Sanyal), a stranger, enters the room after having been upstairs in bed with his lover's dead body all along.

The play seems to be about the redemption of man -- each caring for another. Despite the dramas, we ultimately come together in tragedy. This idea is beautifully staged at the play's end with a dramatic tableau.

However, the acting and directing is not finished. The actors are fine and interesting. Yet they have only begun to thread all of the dimensions together. Once the play gets where it is going, one realizes that it should begin as Coward -- not Pinter. It needs to start festively, with peppiness which marks the anticipation of a party -- playing against the heaviest dramas so that the emotion has somewhere to go. From lightness to pathos -- and from wit to sadness. I guess one of the adjustments at the top of the plot might be to force a denial of familial problems in order to put a good face on for the party. Currently, it plays as if the actors have placed the focus on a doomed relationship from the start.

Despite all of the realism to the set, Eric Rath (playing Hugh) gets off to the wrong start when he downs glass after glass of vodka as if they are glasses of water. If Hugh had actually imbibed that much, I doubt that he could stand. Other stilted mannerisms persist, such as the way people behave upon hearing of the friend's death. Demitry remains seated, and Rath keeps his hands in his pockets. This feeling is for a friend whom they have talked about for an hour. Seems like they are not affected.

Demitry and Nesbit succeed in showing us men who share genuine love -- and we care about them. Rath lets us peek inside a little at the vulnerability of the falling star. Debargo is very believable and endearing.

Good fight direction is by Ron Piretti. House Manager: Ania Vahl. Stage Manager: Donna Rubin.


KIWI DREAMS (Renee'sance Dreams)

"Kiwi Dreams & Other Erotic Fantasies," by Renee Flemings, is a reading. And yet it is not. It's too well produced. When I see a reading with text, wherein the actors are practically off book and moving around to full theatrical effect, I tend to label it as legitimate Reader's Theatre.

They did only one performance; but I'm sure you will see it on the bill at another venue. You should go and see it. It excels at good taste; but, boy, is it edgy and erotic! Flemings directs; and Joe Basile assists. Olivia Tsang stage manages.

The cast is four performers (Scott Baker, Flemings, Amy Fortoul and David Mitchell) and one very sexy saxophone player, Sharon Heller. (Is there a more sexy instrument?) All of these performers are featured to steal the show in their turns.

Where the direction succeeds is in lively blocking, stage pictures and cast! These are all professionals. Make no mistake; they must have had plenty of rehearsals. And they must have seen each other in rehearsals. However, the surprisingly fun part was how each of the actors enjoyed the others. No...RELISHED the work of the others. They truly seemed surprised by the comedy and the daring acting.

Those of us in the audience were also cherishing the commitment behind the funny script. But, there was an intoxication going on among the cast and the audience as we all enjoyed this, seemingly, for the first time. The cast literally experienced stuff for the first time. For example, Flemings unintentionally gets dry nuts caught in her throat as she goes down on the Baby Ruth bar.

Talk about spontaneity. This brings new meaning to the words, "Renee Flemings never lets us down."