Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review - Picasso at the Lapin Agile (T. Schreiber Studio)

Stage Buzz Review by Byrne Harrison

I’ve long been a fan of Steve Martin’s cute and quirky Picasso at the Lapin Agile, though until Friday, I had never seen it performed. What a delight to have my first staged version of the show not only live up to, but exceed, my expectations.

The bright and witty comedy, produced by the T. Schreiber Studio, imagines a chance encounter between Albert Einstein (Josh Marcantel) and Pablo Picasso (Richard Zekaria) in a small bar in Paris, the Lapin Agile. Both are on the cusp of revealing their own particular brand of genius; Einstein with his theory of relativity, and Picasso with Cubism. They are also on the cusp of a radical new century, one that they will come to symbolize.

The play deals with the nature of art, revelation, physics, wine, men, women, love, history . . . a myriad of concepts. Most interesting is its take on genius and fame, both as it relates to Picasso, Einstein and a time-traveling visitor (Edward Campbell, Jr.), who is never named, but is wearing blue suede shoes, and to Charles Dabernow Schmendiman (Michael Black), a nobody who is determined not to let history pass him by unnoticed.

The production is superb, especially in its technical values. George Allison’s highly detailed and realistic set transports the audience to turn of the century Paris. In fact, some of the audience sits onstage during the production, as patrons of the Lapin Agile. Lighting designer Andrea Boccanfuso recreates the intimate feel of a small Parisian bar, and has a couple of stunning visual effects at the end of the play. Karen Ann Ledger’s period costumes are marvelous and give added depth to the characters.

The eleven person ensemble is excellent, with special praise to Zekaria as the manic and sexy Spaniard; Marcantel, whose charmingly goofy Einstein was pleasure to watch; and Frank Mihelich and Maeve Yore as Freddy and Germaine, the down-to-earth owners of the Lapin Agile. Michael Black as Schmendiman provides some of the funniest moments of the show; he has excellent timing and a willingness to throw himself into the sublime ridiculousness of his role.

Director Cat Parker proves adept both at the over-the-top humor and the moments of quiet wonder that Martin has created in his play.

Congratulations to the cast, crew, and T. Schreiber Studio for an excellent production.

Written by Steve Martin
Directed by Cat Parker
Scenic Designer: George Allison
Costume Designer: Karen Ann Ledger
Lighting Designer: Andrea Boccanfuso
Sound Designer: Christopher Rummel
Rehearsal Stage Manager: Shane Van Vliet
Production Stage Manager: Melanie Bell
Assistant Director: Brittney Venable
Set Decorator: Carolyn Mraz
Assistant Costume Designer: Summer Lee Jack
Stitcher: Francesca Neville
Technical Director: Brian Smallwood
Assistant Technical Director: Joe Powell
Lighting Assistant: Rand Sherman
Lightin Assistant: Anna C. Jones
Production Photographer: Rod Goodman
Publicist: Katie Rosin
Industry Liaison: Jessica Faller

Featuring Frank Mihelich (Freddy), Jaim Aylward (Gaston), Maeve Yore (Germaine), Josh Marcantel (Albert Einstein), Arela Rivas (Suzanne), Todd Cowdery (Sagot), Richard Zekaria (Pablo Picasso), Michael Black (Charles Dabernow Schmendiman), Andrea Marie Smith (The Countess), Ivette Dumeng (Mimi the Admirer), and Edward Campbell, Jr. (A Visitor).

T. Schreiber Studio
151 W. 26th Street, 7th Floor
Through May 6th