Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Mass" at the Brick Theater

By Rob Hartmann

Mass, currently finishing its run at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, is a rock musical which explores the contemporary art world and the lengths to which artists will go to make their mark.

The story, set in 2015, begins with Mary, a painter weeks away from finishing her masters degree in art, who has gone to church to escape the looming pressure of completing her thesis; the people surrounding her at mass begin to echo the self-doubting voices in her head. 

When Mary and her lover, sculptor Françoise, fail their art-school juries (the withering questioning of the faculty panel, played by the chorus all in identical yellow-framed glasses, will induce PTSD in anyone who has gone after an MFA), they hatch a plan to urinate on Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” at MOMA, to make a statement about their frustration with the art establishment. When alarms go off, Françoise bolts, leaving Mary to be detained by the police.

Mary’s gallery-worker sister, Kate, arrives to bail her out. Kate has been supporting Mary – a perpetual student – by doling out money from their parents’ estate. Tensions flare between the sisters, and Kate declines to rescue Mary (as one guesses she has had to do before.) Mary proposes to Françoise, and convinces her that they should return to Françoise’s hometown of Vancouver. There, Mary finds an ever-deepening connection to the beauty of nature, while Françoise turns to performance art – creating a song, “Punk For Beauty.”  “I am art/I am beauty/I am enough/I’m a slut for beauty.”

Mary and Françoise argue passionately about art and the role of the artist; the struggle eventually becomes physical, and Mary is accidentally injured in a way that evokes the famous confrontation between Van Gogh and Gauguin which led to Van Gogh slicing his ear. Françoise departs. 

A few years later, Kate is a successful art agent in Shanghai. Françoise has come to pitch herself and her art to Kate, who agrees to bring Françoise into her “family” of artists. (“It’s not a stable – are you a horse?” purrs the elegant Kate.) Mary arrives unexpectedly, with a proposal for a shocking performance art piece that will test the limits of her relationship with Françoise and Kate – as well as her own physical endurance.

The three lead performances are all outstanding, with each actor working in her own particular style. Moira Stone brings a fierce intensity to Mary, who seems to be tortured by the strength of her own thoughts, always on the verge of physical collapse. Stone has a particular gift of being able to make complex dialogue completely clear and natural, finding unique rhythms in the ebb and flow of the words.

Esther Crow skillfully details Françoise’s transformation from sleepy-eyed complacency, to vibrant performance artist complete with “international accent”, to a Warhol-meets-Karl Lagerfeld-meets Marina Abramovic grandeur. (One of the highlights of Act Two is Crow’s number in which she riffs improv-style off members of the audience – at this particular performance, admiring a gentleman’s velvet jacket with increasing appetite until she was practically snarling with desire.) 

Rebecca Gray Davis, as the savvy Kate, is the personified essence of art-gallery chill. In her first song, sung in fragments as she works the door at a gallery opening, she finds the knives lurking just beneath the surface of a perfectly modulated, endlessly repeated “welcome… welcome … welcome.” In her Shanghai-glam outfit in Act Two, she gets mileage out of the clank-clank of  her gold bracelets as she ponders the PR benefits of renaming Françoise to the more marketable “Pablo.”

The sleek set, designed by Lianne Arnold, cleverly draws on museum motifs – sheer white fabric stretched over frames, glossy white boxes on casters – to evoke locations from art-school workroom to museum to Shanghai penthouse. Joe Levasseur’s lighting design subtly and effectively underscores Mary’s many emotional states, most effectively when she is bathed in sunlight, almost hypnotized by the beauty of the Vancouver landscape.

Director Leah Bonvissuto keeps the action moving fluidly, focusing on the evolving relationships among the three women. Even as the work changes form – wheeling freely between realistic relationship drama to absurdist comedy to rock-show performance art – there is a sense of a director’s guiding hand, keeping the emotional narrative on track. The use of the toga-clad Greek chorus is especially effective: Melissa DeLancey, Kaitlin Emery, Amanda LaPergola, Tracy Shar and Phoebe Silva each have sharply etched moments on their own (as fellow art students, a waitress, Kate’s art-agent assistant), as well as a hilarious turn as a fluttery group of art-student interns working for Françoise. Watching them prepare a cup of tea for a visitor – each of the five taking a small part of the task – is like a small performance art piece itself. They execute Sarah Doudna’s imaginative choreography effectively.

Perhaps the most striking production element is the video design by Daniel McKleinfeld (who works under the name VJ Fuzzy Bastard – Mary’s emotional reveries take psychedelic shape in Mr. McKleinfeld’s projections, which are fascinating (while never upstaging the onstage action.)

Music director Maria Dessena ably leads the 5 piece band (Ryan Ferreira and Michael Rafalowich on guitar, Derek Davidson on bass, Sparkie Sandler on drums, with Ms. Dessena on piano and accordion) in a variety of styles from simple folk-style recitative, to full-blast rock.

The piece itself, written by Robert Honeywell (book, music and lyrics) reflects its subject matter by playing with form. The idea, asserted by Françoise in the script, that art is whatever we say it is – that the art is the act of the artist telling us where and how to look – is embodied in the way the script defies expectation of form and genre. Mr. Honeywell gives each of his characters depth and nuance: Kate could easily be a caricature of the art gallery owner as soulless art-pimp, but Mr. Honeywell finds the wit, anger and vulnerability which keeps her real. 

A standout set piece in the dialogue is when Françoise begins to tell a story of a trip to the grocery store, which somehow morphs into her account of being with the subjects of Seurat’s painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and then into the sinking of the Titanic. 

Mr. Honeywell’s songs, which span a range of styles within the world of progressive art rock, find their own forms, following the dramatic flow rather than falling too neatly into conventional patterns. One of the most moving moments of the score is sung by Ms. Crow a cappella – a beautifully undulating melody. “Nature’s what I say it is… Europe’s what I say it is…”  He pushes the actors to explore all registers of their voices – Ms. Stone in particular journeys from the lowest reaches of her range, through a sharp pop-belt, to a lighter folk sound in her middle range, up to an operatic soprano register in more extreme moments.

Mass seeks to make us look anew at our relationship to art and artists – Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box at MOMA, David Blaine subjecting himself to quasi-torture for public view. With a mix of musical and dramatic styles, and a trio of fierce, visceral performances, the piece does exactly that.

Mass, April 13 – 30, 2013, at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg:
579 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211, between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street. $18. for information and tickets.

Music, book and lyrics by Robert Honeywell 
Directed by Leah Bonvissuto
Music direction by Maria Dessena
Set design by Lianne Arnold
Lighting design by Joe Levasseur
Video design by Daniel McKleinfeld
Sound design by Emma Wilk
Costume design by Iracel Rivero
Choreography by Sarah Doudna
Special effects by Stephanie Cox-Williams and Melissa Roth
Assistant Dir. & Stage Management by Raffaela Vergata
Featuring: Esther Crow, Rebecca Gray Davis, Melissa DeLancey, Kaitlan Emery, Amanda LaPergola, Tracy Shar, Phoebe Silva, and Moira Stone.
And the band of: Derek Davidson, Maria Dessena, Ryan Ferreira, Michael Rafalowich and Sparkie Sandler

He Sang, She Sang: "The Last Five Years" at the Signature Theatre, Arlington, Va.

Review by Mark A. Newman

Has it really been a decade since I saw the original version of The Last Five Years, the two-person Jason Robert Brown tuner, off-Broadway? Yeah, it has. Oddly, as much acclaim as it garnered “back in the day,” the show didn’t stay around that long. Its original stars have gone off to quite acclaimed careers – Norbert Leo Butz has two Tonys on his mantle and Tony-nominated Sherie Renee Scott is a household name (in certain Broadway-loving households, that is).

The show itself – seemingly a master class of audition tunes for both males and females – has gained quite a reputation in the intervening decade. Make no mistake, the songs are fantastic but maybe, just maybe the show’s chief conceit – telling the same story from different perspectives and timeframes – may also be its biggest flaw. For anyone who’s never heard of the show, it goes like this: Jamie and Cathy are a couple. They’ve been together five years (hence the title). He’s a successful author; she’s a not-so-successful actress. But here’s where it gets complicated: Cathy sings her songs from the end of the relationship to the beginning while Jamie sings his songs chronologically from the beginning of the relationship to the ending.

The only time the two doomed lovebirds are together are smack dab in the middle when Jamie proposes in Central Park.

I am very familiar this structure, have had the original cast album since it was released, and have now seen the show performed live three times. And STILL I find myself getting confused as the musical unwinds. Maybe that’s just my muddled brain, which is likely. Maybe it’s the author’s dependence on the audience’s memory that is the real problem. For example, after the proposal a reference to a trip to Ohio in the second half confused me because it seemed like Cathy took two trips to Ohio for god-awful summer stock productions. But when she wrote Jamie a letter, things seemed to be okay. Was she in Ohio then? The second trip to Ohio (the first one in the musical) Jamie was obviously being sung to by Cathy and things were not going well at all. 

The storytelling doesn’t quite make it clear where the relationship hit the skids and each other’s reaction to it because what happens in “act one” is often not referenced until “act two.” The so-called act one gun is Kathy’s opening number “Still Hurting” immediately followed by Jamie’s “Shiksa Goddess.” While she’s lamenting the courtship’s downward spiral, he’s rejoicing over finding a non-Jewish girl to love. This juxtaposition either sets the tone for the audience or royally confuses them. Probably a little of both.

As Jamie, James Gardiner is excellent. In his first number – the aforementioned “Shiksa Goddess” – he tried to shove in every over-the-top bit of comic timing he cab and it borders on being too much but as the show goes on and you get to know Jamie, you realize he would totally do that. Unfortunately you don’t have that knowledge right away so you think he’s just a very overly enthusiastic Jewish guy. And you’d be right. 

The yin to Gardiner’s Jamie’s yang is Erin Weaver, recently nominated for a Helen Hayes award for her remarkable turn in Signature’s production of Xanadu last season. Even though she’s not on skates this time, she still keeps on rolling along as we see Cathy evolve (or devolve) from lonely, sad, and newly single to downright giddy when she meets the man of her dreams as the final curtain falls.

Due to the show’s structure, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly where the relationship went wrong. Suffice to say that due to his burgeoning literary success Jamie became impossible to deal with, at least according to Kathy. However, it also seemed like Cathy could not be happy for Jamie because of her own lack of success as an actress. Okay, this is a given. But where the relationship really hit the skids is hard to tell. What was the breaking point, the proverbial last straw? We don’t really know.

Then again, it’s not all that important. What is important is that this delicate, two-person show walks a fine line between the two witnesses to a relationships decline while never pointing a finger of blame at either. That’s the audience’s job. Due to the fairly typical circumstances of this bad romance, most people will have strong feelings of empathy over the course of this 90-minute show.

As with a low-key chamber musical such as The Last Five Years, the show’s design aspects should be equally subdued. The lighting by Andrew F. Griffin is striking in its simplicity as is the off-the-rack costumes by Kathleen Geldard. The sound design by Matt Rowe perfectly captures the show’s intimacy to the point it felt as though the audience was eavesdropping on a relationship that was alternately crumbling and growing from song to song. Daniel Conway’s delicate scenic design was capped by the flourish that rose from Jamie’s writing desk and into the rafters. A twisted sculpture of clocks and manuscript pages tenuously tangled, this set piece was always the visual center of attention, signaling how easily time slips out of our hands. 

It should be noted that the show comprises some of the smartest and well written theatre songs of the last 20 years. Just to hear the songs performed live is reason enough to get yourself to Arlington, Virginia to witness one of the best crafted shows Signature has put on the last year or so. The direction by Aaron Posner is sublime, shifting the focus from him to her and back effortlessly in a production that is as eloquently crafted as a ballet.

We may never figure out if we should blame Jamie’s self-destructiveness or Cathy’s insecurities that doom this Manhattan love story, but you only have yourself to blame for missing this jewel of a musical shining ever so brightly in Northern Virginia.
Music and lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Direction: Aaron Posner
Lighting: Andrew F. Griffin
Costumes: Kathleen Geldard
Sound: Matt Rowe
Scenic design: Daniel Conway
Music direction: William Yannesh
Music supervision: Jon Kalbfleisch

Featuring: James Gardiner (Jamie) and Erin Weaver (Cathy).

Tickets: Ticketmaster (703) 573-SEAT (7328)
Signature Theatre • 4200 Campbell Avenue • Arlington, VA 22206

"The Lying Lesson" - A Lesson Not Learned

By Judd Hollander

Playwright Craig Lucas makes a bit of a misstep with his intriguing but unfortunately one-note work The Lying Lesson at the Atlantic Theater Company, offering a story with initial possibilities but one which ultimately fails to connect.

In a remote seaside town in 1981 Maine, a mysterious and somewhat cantankerous elderly lady named Ruth Elizabeth (Carol Kane) has arrived in the dead of night to purchase a house. Staying there alone while a storm rages outside, she waits for daylight in order meet with the real estate agent to sign the final papers. Suddenly, her silent reverie is interrupted when, in the midst of a power failure, a mysterious figure climbs through the window. The intruder turns out to be Minnie Bodine (Mickey Sumner), a young woman who looks after the place for the current owners. As for Ruth, she soon reveals herself as the Hollywood actress Bettie Davis who plans on buying the home not only for a sort of refuge from her Hollywood life, but also to be near a very special person whom she knew growing up. Someone who was Ruth's first love and the one that got away. Ruth leaving him to pursue her acting career and who now has returned to possibly rekindle that old romance. 

Minnie, a somewhat odd sort, offers to help the older woman by running errands and doing odd jobs while Ruth begins to settle into her new surroundings. Minnie has also never heard of the actress, something Ruth finds quite refreshing. As time passes, the two women settle into a sort of mentor-servant relationship. Minnie offering up some gossipy tidbits as to the makeup of the community and its citizens, the area being a kind of Peyton Place with all that goes on and Ruth regaling Minnie with tales of the Hollywood of old. That is until Ruth begins to suspect her new companion has perhaps not been as forthcoming with certain information as Minnie would have her believe.

The Lying Lesson is a show about people searching for something. Be it safety, peace of mind, or possibly a second chance. Ruth is trying to take a break from her acting life and see if she can go back to where she started, while Minnie sees in Ruth something she has never really had - someone she can talk to. Which she very happily proceeds to do; telling Ruth about such people as the local realtor who may be out for a quick buck, and of course about the actresses' long ago love and what he's up to now. Minnie also talks about her own life, including a husband who may be abusing her.

Unfortunately the piece lacks the depth to make either of the participants all that sympathetic. Kane does a nice job with the public perception of Davis, spinning tales about her celebrity life, such as her relationship with director William Wyler and her legendary feud with Joan Crawford, but there is little behind the much-parodied persona that allows the audience to get inside the head of the character. Though with a little more work, Kane would probably be able to pull off a nice one-person show about the actress. There's even the obligatory line tossed in about Bettie Davis eyes. Funny at times, accusatory at others, there eventually becomes too much of a sameness regarding Kane's actions. She also never comes off as world weary as the script would have one believe. On a more positive note, Kane does indeed look like Davis did during that time period, with the hair and mannerism almost letter perfect, although she never gets the voice quite right. Her own trademark vocal tones coming though even though there is an attempt to disguise them.

There are similar clarity problems when it comes to the character of Minnie. Sumner gets the New England accent down nicely, but she must also deal with a script which only offers hints about Minnie's background until the very end, the resulting portrayal being pretty much of a one-note offering. The character never really getting angry or desperate until the final denouement is made. There's also the disadvantage that while the Bettie Davis character has a well-documented history from which the audience can draw upon, Minnie is a blank slate when first seen and little is done to help fill in the missing pieces. For example we never find out why Minnie is seemingly ostracized by most of the townspeople, or the story behind her noticeable limp, although there are vague hints as to the latter. Additionally, the ultimate explanation offered really doesn't ring true with the ending feeling sort of tacked on in an attempt to manipulate the audience just before the curtain comes down rather than letting events unfold naturally and easily. 

Pam Mackinnon's direction nicely sets the tension and keeps the audience guessing for a while as to what's going on, but like the actors, she can only do so much with what she is given to work with. Though a scene with a gun, an old memento of Davis', doesn't come off as nail-biting as it should. Neil Patel's set of the somewhat rundown home Ruth wants to buy is okay. The hair and wig work by Charles LaPointe is especially good, as is the lighting effects by Russell H. Champa.

The Lying Lesson ultimately fails to deliver because it offers only glimpses of ideas and questions of what is to come without ever really following through on its initial promise. 

Featuring: Carol Kane (Ruth Elizabeth), Mickey Sumner (Minnie Bodine)

The Lying Lesson
By Craig Lucas
Sets: Neil Patel
Costumes: Ilona Somogyi

Lights: Russell H. Champa
Original Music and Sound: Broken Cord
Hair & Wigs: Charles LaPointe
Dialect Coach: Kate Wilson
Violence Consultant: J. David Brimmer
Casting: Telsey & Company, Will Canter, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Charles M. Turner III
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Production Manager: Michael Wade
Directed by Pam Mackinnon

The Atlantic Theater Company
Linda Gross Theater
336 West 20th Street
Closed: March 31, 2013

"Happy Birthday" - Frosting Without a Cake

By Judd Hollander
Photo by Hunter Canning

The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) has dipped into the theatrical archives and revived the Anita Loos work Happy Birthday which was a Broadway hit for Helen Hayes in 1946. However this time around a less than stellar cast cannot hide the problems of this lightweight vehicle, which moves forward in fits and starts rather than sailing jauntily toward its conclusion.

It's a rainy night in Newark, NJ as the regulars start to come into The Jersey Mecca Cocktail Bar, the place being owned by Gail (Karen Ziemba). The staff includes Herman (Ron McClary) who holds court as a bartender, and June (Leslie Shires), girlfriend to Gail's son Don (Tom Berklund), Don being off in the merchant marines. 

(L to R) Victoria Mack, Todd
Gearhart, Mary Bacon
A place with a bit of an unsavory reputation, the Mecca is a place for quiet assignations and where business can be conducted away from prying eyes. Such as when Gabe (Joe Tippett) is looking to get a quickie divorce so he can marry his girlfriend Bella (Hanna Cheek) before she becomes too much in the family way. Thanks to the help of a perennially soused Judge (Anderson Matthews), this matter just might get quickly resolved. There's also the issue of Paul Bishop (Todd Gearhart), a bank teller spending some quality time with his girlfriend Maude (Victoria Mack), a woman who may also have another man on the side.

Into this mix comes the somewhat prim and proper Addie Bemis (Mary Bacon), a librarian and a woman who is clearly out of her comfort zone. It seems she told her dad (Matthews), a notoriously mean drunk, that she's been seeing Paul and now her father is coming here to confront him. Addie, who made the entire thing up, now just wants to warn Paul of the danger and then quickly depart.

Of course things don't go the way she plans, as Addie begins to get drawn into the lives of those she meets in the Mecca. Addie also harbors a secret love for Paul and finds herself sticking around and trying to get to know him. One thing leads to another and when Addie, a lifelong teetotaler, gets talked into a having her first sip of alcohol - a Pink Lady to be precise - it's not long before her inhibitions get tossed in the dustbin and she starts behaving in a rather wild manner, carrying the other denizens in the establishment along for the ride.

The Loos' script has a lot of layers to it, many of which may not have been readily apparent to a 1946 audience. Such as how quickly one can go from being a happy drunk, and the life of the party, to a pathetic one. There's also the issue of how some people have to buy their friends in order to keep them around. Another topic to be considered is that of generational conflict, as seen in the interactions of Gail, Don and June. All interesting possibilities to be sure, but ultimately, none of which really come together. 

It helps tremendously if the setting presented has some colorful characters or a good period atmosphere. But this production of Happy Birthday has neither. The people inhabiting the Mecca never really leaping off the page into the audience's consciousness and certainly not into their hearts. There are also several plotlines that are introduced and quickly dropped, like Gail's relationship with her son and how June figures into it all, as well as the previously mentioned problems of Gabe and Bella, with what happens to them being a plot point that's left hanging. Though Tot (Darrie Lawrence) and Emma (Nora Chester), two somewhat gossipy ladies who egg Addie on in terms of alcoholic consumption, come off nicely; as does Myrtle (Margot White), a lonely woman pinning for her married lover, who's busy spending time with his wife. Also quite good is Anderson Matthews in the duel roles of The Judge and Addie's father.

Another problem is that one never feels the story is taking place in the time period indicated. Things start off nicely with some boogie-woogie music, but except for some occasional mentions about specific events, there's nothing to really anchor it to any particular place and time, the sets and costumes doing nothing to help add to that specificity. On the plus side, Brett J. Banakis' set does give the playing area a nice homely feel and the costumes by Campbell Baird are fine as far as they go. There are also some good lighting effects by Paul Hackenmueller and the sound design by Bart Fasbender is nicely executed. However one particular stage effect meant to show Addie and Paul alone together might have done better with a simple spotlight on them and the rest of the characters frozen in darkness instead of what's actually used.

It also doesn't help that the lead character is rather bland. A definite star vehicle for whomever is playing Addie, Bacon isn't up to what the role demands, at least not as directed by Scott Alan Evans. Her portrayal being too much of a one-note offering, whether Addie is the midst of an alcoholic haze or just wanting desperately to talk to someone. The only time Bacon is able to break through is when Addie is talking to her father about what has befallen her. Sadly by this time this happens, the show is almost over. Had this inner strength been brought to the forefront earlier, things might have worked better. Bacon's co-star Gearhart also doesn't fare that well as Paul. A square-jawed and honorable fellow, he comes off as tired and boring without making any significant impression.

Direction by Evans is rather slipshod. He has all the pieces of the story available, but isn't able to bring them together with enough energy or zest to really put the show over the top. He does a decent job with what he attempts, but it's not nearly as good enough as it needs to be.

Happy Birthday, the title applying to one of the characters in the story, is one of those shows with a lot of potential, but in this particular case it ultimately fails to deliver where it counts.

Also in the cast are Joseph Masi and James Prendergast.

Happy Birthday

Featuring: Karen Ziemba (Gail Hosmer), James Prendergast (Dad Malone), Joe Tippett (Gabe Darcy), Hanna Cheek (Bella Lane), Ron McClary (Herman), Margot White (Myrtle), Lesley Shires (June), Mary Bacon (Addie Bemis), Victoria Mack (Maude Carson), Tom Berklund (Don Hosmer), Anderson Matthews (The Judge/Homer Bemis), Todd Gearhart (Paul Bishop), Joseph Masi (Policeman/Mr. Nanino), Darrie Lawrence (Tot), Nora Chester (Emma)

Written by Anita Loos

Production Stage Manager: Jeff Meyers
Assistant Stage Manager: Andrew Slater
Dramaturge: Matt Herzfeld
Casting Director: Kelly Gillespie
Press and Publicity: Richard Hillman PR
Marketing: The Pekoe Group
TACT General Manager: Cathy Bencivenga
Wig & Hair Design: Tommy Kurzman
Associate Costume Design: Nicole Wee
Props: Lauren Madden
Choreography: Valerie Wright
Music Programming: Joe Trapanese

"I Haven't Got A Worry in the World"
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II 

Sound Design & Original Music: Bart Fasbender
Musical Direction & Original Music: James Cunningham
Lighting Design: Paul Hackenmueller
Costume Design: Campbell Baird
Scenic Design: Brett J. Banakis
Directed by Scott Alan Evans

Presented by The Actors Company Theatre
The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
Tickets: 212-239-6200 or
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (no intermission)
Closed: April 14, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Brooke Davis in “I’m So Sorry… For Everything” at the Metropolitan Room, March 25th, 2013

By Rob Hartmann

Cabaret at its best allows the singing actor to create an evening which flows effortlessly and inevitably from their own stage personality. It’s no surprise that some of the most interesting cabaret performers are those who, for one reason or another, do not fit handily into any existing musical theater mold.

Brooke Davis, in her show “I’m So Sorry … For Everything”, which played March 25th at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, takes the traditional “story of my life” theme and gives it a hearty twist. From the opening moments - a mini radio play in which we listen in to the delivery room, as stunned doctors (“are those the shoulders?”) bring a trilling baby Brooke into the world – it’s clear that Davis is making the cabaret form her own. The title refers to Davis’s habit of apologizing for taking up too much space in the world – having grown to six feet by age ten. With musical director Darren Cohen and director Barbara Grecki, Davis has crafted a hilarious evening which intertwines song with comic set pieces in which she creates an entire supporting cast of characters.

From a well meaning wide-eyed drama teacher (“ooooh my! You’re a big girl,) who introduces Brooke to the wonders of theater, to a Dolores Umbridge-style professor who brings every conversation back to her own career, to a woman who drags Davis’s husband aside at a bar mitzvah to comment on the six-foot shiksa – the characters pop effortlessly out of the well-honed dialogue. First time cabaret performers sometimes veer too far to one extreme or another with their spoken material – either coming across as too tightly scripted, or else fumblingly winging it. Davis strikes exactly the right balance – the narrative has clear structure, but with the sense in the off-hand delivery that Davis is sharing it with you over a martini (or three.)

Most impressive is how smoothly Davis transitions into and out of the songs. Musical director Darren Cohen has created gorgeous, sophisticated arrangements – including a striking transformation of “In My Own Little Corner”, the cheery Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, into a darker, meditative jazz piece unwinding from an insistent bass ostinato. (Mr. Cohen, at the piano, is joined by Matt Sharfglass on upright bass, and Jeff Roberts on drums.) The song selections range from more Rodgers & Hammerstein (“Shall We Dance”), to Maltby & Shire (“A Girl You Should Know), to Sondheim (the sharply driving “See What It Gets You” from Anyone Can Whistle, and a hilarious re-contextualization of “Beautiful Girls” from Follies.) Davis also takes a turn through R&B (“Shop Around”) and even Pink’s “Glitter in the Air”, wrapping her crystal-clear mezzo around each style equally well.

One of the highlights of the evening is the Beatrice Lillie classic, “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of our Garden.” Brooke Davis in many ways is a modern version of the madcap Ms. Lillie (who made her name in comic revues and in the works of Noël Coward), mixing a sense of elegant arched-eyebrow absurdity with a strain of Will Rogers plain-speaking (owing to Ms. Davis’s Arizona upbringing.) Ms. Davis is like an alchemist’s combination of the dry humor and depth of Allison Janney; the bubbly warmth of Judy Kaye; the vaudevillian silliness of Jo Anne Worley; and the elegance and vulnerability of Barbara Harris. Her voice is a pure, youthful mezzo mix, which rises with ease to clear high notes, and becomes warm and clarinet-like in the low register. At times, she evokes the crystalline, heartbreaking sound of the great Victoria Clark (with whom Ms. Davis has studied, and who was in attendance on Monday night). But Ms. Davis always puts her own particular spin on the music, singing with true authenticity.

Director Barbara Grecki deftly shapes the evening with lighting that underscores the changing moods, while never intruding. The Metropolitan Room, as always, provides smart, attentive service in a comfortable venue.

Brooke Davis has appeared most places you’d expect to find up and coming New York actors: turns on Law & Order, One Life to Live (before its untimely demise), and appearances in regional and touring productions. One can hope that wise casting directors can find a way to bring Ms. Davis’s unique combination of wicked wit, sweet vulnerability and boisterous humor to New York audiences soon.

Brooke Davis in “I’m So Sorry … For Everything”, March 25th, 2013. Musical direction by Darren Cohen. Directed by Barbara Grecki. Mr. Cohen on piano, Matt Scharfglass on bass, Jeff Roberts on drums. Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, New York City.

--Rob Hartmann is a writer/composer/lyricist based in New York City.

“The North Pool” - Where no one is who or what they seem

By Judd Hollander

Perception or the misinterpretation of it is the key in Rajvi Joseph's tension-filled The North Pool at the Vineyard Theatre. It's April, 2007 in Middle America and the beginning of spring break at a public high school when Khadim Asmaan (Babak Tafti), a Syrian-born student, is summoned to the office of Dr. Danielson (Stephen Barker Turner), the vice principal. Danielson, a sort of overbearing fellow who always tries to have his finger on the pulse of things, starts asking Khadim leading question about the young man's life, his parents and why he suddenly transferred from a prestigious private institution to his current location, which is definitely a step down on the academic status ladder. For Khadim's part, he tries to answer Danielson's questions simply and calmly, but there is no denying the white elephant of smoldering anger in the room; kind of like a bomb waiting to go off. Though exactly when or under what circumstances this will happen is unknown.

This uncertainty is the hinge on which this riveting two-character play turns. The not knowing where the narrative is going or which of these two people is in the right or wrong of the matter. Tafti and Turner do an excellent job with their characters and also play off each other wonderfully, as one waits to see who just will come out on top of their verbal gymnastics covering such subjects as small talk, school history, bomb shelters, off-campus parties, drugs, first amendment rights, Arab-American relations and the death of another student, one with which both Khadim and Dr. Danielson had close ties.

The script provides numerous twists and turns with common stereotypes at times running true to form while at other moments being turned completely on their heads. Danielson for example seems to be more than a little obsessive concerning his love for the school, harboring a feeling of protectiveness for his perceived fiefdom as well as a bitterness for not receiving what he sees as a well-deserved promotion. Yet he is also rather intelligent and intuitive with little going on around him of which he is not aware. Also, like Khadim he plays his cards close to the vest, not showing his hand until his opponent provides him an opening through which to strike.

As for Khadim, over the course of the play he undergoes a metamorphosis from a scared 18 year-old to someone with a swagger in his voice who takes delight in always having the upper hand. Tafti imbues the character with intelligence, purpose, anger and sensitivity. Particularly interesting, and again this goes back to a matter of perception, is the fact that Khadim was assigned a locker in the basement of the school, with both Khadim and Danielson having conflicting opinions as to why this was so.

Joseph's script is also tautly brought to life by the show's director, Giovanna Sardelli, who not only keeps the play moving nicely with the tension continually on the rise, but is also able to add feelings of claustrophobia and isolation into the mix. The school is completely empty except for these two characters, with Danielson's office often feeling more like an interrogation room than anything else. The scenic design by Donyale Werle is especially good in this regard, the playing area looking like a cluttered but somewhat ordered school office.

Well acted and presented, with no extra padding or extraneous speeches The North Pool is definitely a play worth watching and one which offers the audience a chance to realize, as the two characters in the show ultimately do, the dangers of taking both matter and people at simple face value.

The North Pool

Featuring: Babak Tafti (Khadim Asmaan), Stephen Barker Turner (Dr. Danielson)

Written by Rajiv Joseph
Scenic Design: Donyale Werle
Costume Design: Paloma Young
Lighting Design: David Lander
Sound Design: Daniel Kluger
Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis
Production Stage Manager: Megan Smith
Production Manager: David Nelson
Press Representative: Sam Rudy Media Relations
Casting: Henry Russell Bergstein, CSA
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli

The Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street
Closed: March 24, 2013

“The Old Boy” - Powerful and Riveting

By Judd Hollander
Photo by Carol Rosegg

When making a statement, sometimes the simplest messages are the best, as brilliantly shown in the Keen Company's quietly powerful revival of A.R. Gurney's 1991 play The Old Boy, the story providing a strong reminder of a time not that long ago, and packing as powerful a wallop as when it was first produced on stage.

Sam (Peter Rini), a rising political star who is probably going to get the Republican nomination for governor, has abruptly changed his schedule to give a commencement speech at his former prep school, said institution located in New England. His decision made much to the consternation of his political speechwriter and trusted right-hand man Bud (Cary Donaldson), who wants Sam to distance himself from his preppy, a.k.a. privileged, past as much as possible.

Upon reaching the school, Sam is surprised to find Harriet (Laura Esterman) the mother of his old school chum Perry (Chris Dwan) waiting to see him. Sam was the "Old Boy" to Perry, a prep school tradition where a new student is placed in the care of an older one in order to help the new arrival get used to the school. While Sam and Perry became great friends, the two eventually lost touch and Sam is shocked to hear Perry has since died. Harriet plans to give the school a huge bequest in her son's memory and wants Perry to mention the gift in his upcoming speech. Also with Harriet is Perry's widow Alison (Marsha Dietlein Bennett), a woman who used to date Sam before Perry came into the picture.

However Sam soon discovers, after the ever-suspicious Bud does some fact-checking, some rather startling facts about Perry and how he died; the genesis of which is explored in flashback sequences where Perry is revealed to be an earnest and sensitive young man with a passion for music and acting, but who is pushed into sports by Harriet, who turns out to be quite the domineering mother. It's a path which Sam also urges Perry to follow, seeing athletics as a manlier thing to do. There is also the question of Perry's possible homosexuality, a subject his mother refuses to discuss or even consider, a topic which at the time, was also completely repellent to Sam.

As the audience is offered glimpses of just who Perry was, the present-day Sam begins to question not only how he treated Perry back then, and the part he played in bringing Perry and Alison together, but also his own future path and the driving ambitions he has held for so long. Ambitions which probably destroyed his first marriage and are about to end his second.

As Gurney notes in this intimate and somewhat time-capsule of a tale, there are consequences in every action one takes. A reality both Sam and to a lesser degree many of those around him are finally forced to acknowledge. What makes the story so affecting is that the characters come off not only as real people, but also as symbols of attitudes that were prevalent in the time show was set and which still exist today. This is personified best in the strong performance by Rini, his character not so much a bigot but rather one quite probably ignorant of a lifestyle he knew nothing about other than what he was told in locker rooms or local bars. Sam was also much more concerned with his own self-interests, often treating people like pieces on a chessboard to be moved as per his whims. It's not until Sam takes a good look at the man he was that he understands his role in it all and delivers a speech that is both elegant in its simplicity and quietly shattering.

Also doing a great job is Esterman as Harriet, one of those mothers from hell, going from being just a tad overbearing to someone determined to protect her son's memory, and her own illusions at any cost. Bennett is fine as Alison, a woman who may have a bit of a drinking problem and who realizes her entire life has been based on a lie. There's still an attraction between her and Sam, but it may be undone if she learns just how much he figures into events in her own past. Donaldson is good as Bud, trying to juggle his own personal life with his belief in Sam and wanting to push him along politically to the very top. Tim Riis Farrell does a nicely subdued job in the role of Dexter, an Episcopal Minster at the school. Dwan cuts an appealing figure as the conflicted Perry, a boy whose inner turmoil becomes more and more apparent as the play progresses.

Jonathan Silverstein's direction is excellent, keeping the story moving nicely and effortlessly blending the flashback scenes with the present day moments. Steven C. Kemp's set of the suite where Sam stays on campus is nicely opulent without going overboard, and the costume by Jennifer Paar are appropriate to the setting.

Timely and effective, The Old Boy is a work that deserves to be seen. Both for the production itself and as a lesson to all aspiring playwrights that when making a statement, sometimes a few choice sentences can be much more effective than entire paragraphs devoted to the issue.

The Old Boy

Featuring: Tom Riis Farrell (Dexter), Cary Donaldson (Bud), Peter Rini (Sam), Laura Esterman (Harriet), Chris Dwan (Perry), Marsha Dietlein Bennett (Alison)

Written by A.R. Gurney
Directed by Jonathan Silverman
Production Stage Manager: Theresa Flanagan
Scenic Designer: Steven C. Kemp
Costume Designer: Jennifer Paar
Lighting Designer: Josh Bradford
Original Music: Ryan Rumery
Sound Designer: M. Florian Staab
Casting Director: Calleri Casting
Fight Director: Paul Molnar
Props Designer: Ricola Wille
House Manager: Ryan Hudak

Presented by the Keen Company
Theatre Row Studios
410 West 42nd Street
Running time 1 hour, 15 minutes no intermission
Closed: March 30, 2013

“Passion” - Passion and Problems

By Judd Hollander

There is a fine line between love, hate, obsession and disgust. Such is the ground explored in the 1994 musical Passion (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, based on the film Passione D'Amore, directed by Ettore Scola, originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine) now being presented Off-Broadway by the Classic Stage Company. While the story and indeed the entire cast tackle the subject head-on, a key plot point and some directorial missteps threaten to derail the emotional impact of the production.

In Milan, Italy, Giorgio Bachetti (Ryan Silverman), a young Army Captain is happily enjoying the company of his married mistress Clara (Melissa Errico), when he reveals he is to be transferred to a remote outpost. Promising to write to her every day, the two being madly in love, he departs and soon finds himself in his new surroundings. A non-drinker and avid book reader, Giorgio doesn't quite fit in with the other officers, all nice fellows, if a little boorish - men who spend their free time talking about women, repeating the latest rumors and good-naturedly complaining about the cooking of Sergeant Lombardi (Orville Mendoza). Giorgio does however catch the attention of the company commander Colonel Ricci (Stephen Bogardus), a rather genial sort with an appropriately authoritative air. Giorgio also soon learns of the existence of Fosca (Judy Kuhn), Ricci's terribly withdrawn and sensitive cousin and a woman battered by illnesses, both physical and emotional. She is also, to put it mildly, rather plan and drab looking. Seeing in Giorgio a kindred spirit, the two both knowing the value of a sunrise or the beauty of a flower, Fosca becomes less of a recluse in order to spend time with Giorgio, the young man gallantly offering his hand to her in friendship.

But Fosca has more than friendship on her mind, having fallen in love with Giorgio at first sight. Her desperate and cloying attitude towards him repels Giorgio to no end. Yet as Tambourri (Tom Nelis), the company doctor, explains, it is Giorgio's visits with Fosca that are literally giving her the will to live and a reason to struggle on against her various debilitating conditions. Finding himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Giorgio soon finds himself becoming smothered by Fosca's attempts at affection, ones which soon begin to take their toll on his mental health and which also threaten his relationship with Clara.

Passion is an intensely intimate and personal tale and works wonderfully in a technical sense as presented in the relatively small CSC space, making one feel as if they're right in the midst of the action; whether it is Giorgio or Clara making love - a moment which opens the show - or in Fosca's private chamber during one of many confrontations and realizations. Sondheim and Lapine pull no punches here, showing in words and music how quickly one's emotions, feelings and perceptions of another can change, with reason all too often going by the wayside to follow a course one knows deep down is the right thing to do, even if no one else may see it that way.

Sadly, much of what is presented is ultimately undone by a key plot point that doesn't really work. When Giorgio is in Milan on leave, Clara, who has learned all about Fosca through her lover's letters to her, as well as seeing the stress and emotional toll it's taking on him, begs him not to go back. However Giorgio refuses saying it's his duty to keep taking care of Fosca. Yet moments before this scene, Giorgio demonstrated his extreme disgust of Fosca's obsession with him as well as his desperate desire to get away from her. As such, his subsequent reactions do not make sense. Seeing those two scenes, one after the other, makes one feel as if something was cut from the play; the immediate effect of which being the sudden removal of the audience from the immediacy of the situation. It's a problem from which the show never fully recovers.

The three leads are all excellent. Kuhn steals the show as Fosca, a beaten-down woman who has suffered great heartbreak throughout her life and, as she says to Giorgio at one point, doesn't know how to love. The actress delivers a superlative portrayal here with her every step and movement showing the pain she is carrying inside. While Fosca's actions towards Giorgio may be way over the line – in reality she's not far removed from being a stalker – she does cause Giorgio to realize that love is more simply a word to be bandied about in the heat of passion. Rather, it's one which is linked irrevocably to reasonability and commitment. Situations Giorgio had never seriously considered before now.

Errico fine as Clara, seemingly little more than a pretty woman in the beginning, but one who has a keen intuition and who begins to see, long before Giorgio does, the effect Fosca has on him. Clara's also terribly realistic when it comes to her trysts with Giorgio. Loving him whenever she can steal away from her husband, but fearful of what would happen if their relationship became known.

Silverman makes a good Giorgio. A bit bland in the beginning, and perhaps deliberately so, he quickly bring forth a character with the soul of a poet. He's also a person caught between two very different women, while struggling with feelings he cannot fully comprehend. A scene between Giorgio and Fosca concerning the writing of a love letter is particularly wrenching to watch.

Elsewhere, Bogardus does fine work as the officious and congenial Colonel Ricci, while Nelis is very good as Doctor Tambourri - someone who wants to make sure Fosca has the best care possible, but who have may have overstepped his bounds while trying to do so. The rest of the cast, all of whom are pretty interchangeable, do their jobs quite well.

John Doyle's direction is a bit of mixed bag. While he keeps the story moving well and has a firm grasp of the material, he's unable to get the show past the plot problem mentioned above. There's also a somewhat strange moment early on where Giorgio smiles noticeably while relating to Clara his pity and contempt for Fosca after their first meeting. It's an action which is incongruous to the character and also rather distracting. One wonders whether the actor or director came up with the idea and why it was ultimately used.

The Sondheim score is enjoyable to hear, though none of the musical is particularly memorable. Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick are excellent. It also helps that all of the actors have strong singing voices, with the entire cast - especially Errico, Kuhn, Silverman and Bogardus - bringing forth the emotional elements of the songs. Doyle's design of the show is fine and the costumes by Ann Hould-Ward are a joy to behold. Lighting by Jane Cox is nicely effective, as is the sound design by Dan Moses Schreier.

Passion is a musical that has a lot to say about the human heart, about the true meanings of beauty and responsibility and most of all, about love. Yet for the tale to truly work it must be continuously believable and for one glaring moment at least, it fails in that regard. The performances, though, definitely make this a show worth seeing.


Featuring: Stephen Bogardus (Colonel Ricci), Jeffry Denman (Lieutenant Barri/Mother), Melissa Errico (Clara), Jason Michael Evans (Private Augenti/Mistress) Ken Krugman (Lieutenant Torasso/Father), Judy Kuhn (Fosca), Orville Mendoza (Sergeant Lombardi) Tom Nelis (Doctor Tambourri), Will Reynolds (Major Rizzolli/Ludovic), Ryan Silverman (Giorgio)

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Based on the film Passione D'Amore, directed by Ettore Scola
Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine
Costume Design: Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting Design: Jane Cox
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
Music Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Associate Costume Design: Christopher Vergara
Associate Lighting Design: Bradley King
Associate Sound Design: Nicholas Pope, Joshua Reid
Associate Set Design: David L. Arsenault
Associate Music Design: Greg Jarrett
Associate Director: Adam John Hunter
Make-up Design: Angelina Avallone
Hair Consultants: J Jared Janas & Rob Greene
Casting: Calleri Casting
Press Representative: The Publicity Office
Production Supervisor: Production Core
Managing Director: Jeff Griffin
Production Stage Manager: Adam John Hunter
Associate Stage Manager: Claudia Lynch
Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick
Musical Direction by Rob Berman
Directed and Designed by John Doyle

Presented by Classic Stage Company
136 East 13th Street
Tickets: 212-352-3101 or
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes, no intermission
Closes: April 19, 2013

“It's a Bird....It's a Plane...It's Superman” - Soaring High

By Judd Hollander
Photo by Joan Marcus

More than four decades before everyone's favorite wall-crawler debuted on the great white way, another comic book character did the same thing in 1966's It's A Bird...It's a Plane.. It's Superman (music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams, book by David Newman and Robert Benton), which ran for 129 performances at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon). Basically forgotten today except by the most avid musical theatre buffs, there is a lot to recommend in this satiric and somewhat kooky look at the Man of Steel and the world that then surrounded him in a vehicle that was recently resurrected for the Encores! series at New York City Center.

The city of Metropolis, like every other major metropolitan locale, is awash with crime, but evildoers are kept at bay thanks to the never-ending efforts of Superman (Edward Watts), an indestructible - as the audience is continually reminded - visitor from another planet. In his guise as the meek and mild Clark Kent (Watts), a reporter for the newspaper The Daily Planet, Superman keeps one eye out for trouble and one on reporter Lois Lane (Jenny Powers), who has a habit of getting into danger. Lois is madly in love with Superman and Superman is in love with her, though our hero can't reveal his feelings, his mission of "doing good" which is also his mantra and motto, getting in the way of him having any kind of personal life. There's also the pesky question of whether Lois actually loves Superman for himself rather than for his having super powers.

Superman also has to contend with the evil genius Dr. Abner Sedgwick (David Pittu), a ten-time Nobel Prize loser. Also seeking to get the Man of Steel in his crosshairs is the egocentric Max Mencken (Will Swenson), The Daily Planet's gossip columnist, who is determined to discover Superman's identify and reveal it to the world.

Throwing in elements of psychoanalysis and asking if there is such a thing as true altruism in the world; as well as dealing with issues of true love and learning to let go of one's quest for the unobtainable - not to mention a subplot about Communism - the story moves both quickly and satisfyingly. It also helps that the production team is able to pull together an appropriate 1960s feel for the show while lovingly recreating the eye-popping and cartoon world of the Superman comic book; presenting an atmosphere and setting that is both nostalgic and just a bit off-kilter in terms of reality. Great work by scenic consultant John Lee Beatty, as well as by Paul Tazewell on the costumes. The Superman flying effect, using a cardboard cutout, also provides an appropriate touch to the proceedings.

If there is one problem in the production it would be Watts' portrayal of the title character, who comes off as perhaps a bit too square and also rather naive in the ways of the world. The last being something Superman never was in any of his incarnations. While the character's somewhat stilted speeches come off well, his more intimate moments do not - the show not being able to effectively humanize a character who by definition is not human. Watts' song "The Strongest Man in the World" for example, which is supposed to show the angst and pain of the character instead provokes laughs. It would also have helped had there been a bigger difference between the Clark Kent and Superman personas than was shown on stage.

Other than this one issue, the entire cast works pretty much perfectly. Powers makes a wonderful Lois Lane, combining romantic infatuation with intelligence and a talent for getting into trouble, yet also eagerly exploring the possibility of a relationship that has nothing to do whatsoever with Superman. Powers also has a very good singing voice and is nicely endearing in such numbers as the ballad "It's Superman," as well as the comic duet "We Don't Matter At All". The latter in which she shares the stage with Adam Monley, who plays a technician at a the Metropolis Institute of Technology.

Swenson is a hoot at the scenery-chewing Max. A fellow who thinks he's God's gift to woman, he has excellent chemistry with his various co-stars and does well in several musical numbers such as "You've Got What I Need" - a hilarious bromantic turn with Pittu; "The Woman For The Man" - which matches him with Powers; and "Ooh, Do You Love You!", where he plays a non-singing straight man to his warbling assistant Sydney (Alli Mauzey). Mauzey meanwhile, turns in a performance that would qualify her for a Tony nomination for Best Supporting Actress had the show been playing Broadway. In addition to having letter prefect comedic timing, she steals the show with the song "You've Got Possibilities," where she tries to get Clark to unbend a bit.

Chewing the scenery in sometimes wild abandon, Pittu offers a deliciously over the top portrayal of a mad scientist, or at least one with some serious ego issues. The character being motivated solely by revenge, which is also the title of a song Pittu hilariously delivers. It's a testament to the actor's ability that he makes this character both one the audience loves to hate, while at the same time giving him a bit of an woebegone quality.

The score by Strouse and Adams is quite enjoyable, offering a nice mix of fast and slow numbers, with a few period pieces tossed in, including the title tune. Also offered are at least a few hummable songs, an increasing rarity on Broadway these days. The orchestrations are wonderfully done and the Encores! Orchestra, under the music direction and baton of Rob Berman is superb.

Special commendation must also go to the strong choreographic work by Joshua Bergasse and the acrobatics of The Flying Lings (Craig Henningsen, Suo Liu, Jason Ng, Scott Webber), a group of individuals who ostensibly turn to crime to take revenge on the Man of Steel, but who, like their boss (James Saito), have a more nefarious purpose than simple payback. Except for the problem concerning the characterizations of Superman and Clark Kent, John Rando's direction works very well, Rando having a mostly firm grasp on the material.

Its a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman is a welcome addition to the Encores! repertoire, showing the piece to be one of those forgotten tuners which deserves a second look. In an era where musicals that are filled with meanings, messages and overlong preaching, it's nice to see something a bit more simple, clean and just plain fun - and clocking it at a scant two hours, it all goes by faster than a speeding bullet.

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman

Featuring: Edward Watts (Superman/Clark Ken), Will Swenson (Max Mencken), Jenny Powers (Lois Lane), Alli Mauzey (Sydney), David Pittu (Dr. Abner Sedgwick), Adam Monley (Jim Morgan), James Saito (Father Ling), Craig Henningsen, Suo Liu, Jason Ng, Scott Webber (The Flying Lings), Wendi Bergamini, Ward Billeisen, Sam Bolen, Stephen Carrasco, Hannah Florence, Sara Jean Ford, Miles Johnson, Max Kumangai, Samantha Massell, Skye Mattox, Kenita R. Miller, Michael Mindlin, Jessica Lea Patty, David Scott Purdy, Manuel Stark, Charlie Williams, Kirsten Wyatt, Samantha Zack (Ensemble - Policemen, Crooks, College Kids and Various Citizens of Metropolis)

Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by David Newman and Robert Benton
Based Upon the Comic Strip "Superman"
Broadway Production Produced by Harold Prince in association with Ruth Mitchell
Directed for the Broadway Stage by Harold Prince
Scenic Consultant: John Lee Beatty
Costume Consultant: Paul Tazewell
Lighting Designer: Ken Billington
Sound Designer: Nevin Steinberg
Concert Adaptation: Jack Viertel
Music Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Original Orchestrations by Eddie Sauter
General Management Services: Over-Sky Productions
Production Stage Manager: Tripp Phillips
Casting: Jay Binder Casting
Choreography: Joshua Bergasse
Featuring: The Encores! Orchestra
Music Director and Conductor: Rob Berman
Associate Music Director: Joel Fram
Assistant Music Director: Josh Clayton
Fight Captain: Suo Liu
Director: John Rando

Presented by New York City Center Encores!
New York City Center
151 West 55th Street
Performed from March 20-March 24, 2013