No Parrots Were Harmed in the Making of This Production: LIGHT UP THE SKY

The cast of Light Up the Sky. Photo: Mark S. Howard.

The cast (in their finery) of Light Up the Sky. Photo: Mark S. Howard.

Presented by Lyric Stage Co. of Boston
By Moss Hart
Directed by Scott Edmiston
Music direction by Will McGarrahan

May 15 – June 13, 2015
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) If one scratches the surface of theatre history, information on Moss Hart and his great effect comes spilling forth like a Texan hitting oil in his backyard. He was beloved by most, if not all, for his contributions. He worked with greats such as George S. Kaufman, Kurt Weill, and Ira Gershwin. He co-wrote countless musical reviews (I’d Rather Be Right), directed some hits (Camelot), and wrote several award winning screenplays (A Star Is Born). He was a gentleman, a scholar and pretty great guy.

Light Up the Sky is a twee but surprisingly sincere ode to outspoken theatre creators and the quiet people who adore them. At once, we are introduced to a loud, proud and ridiculous cast of characters on opening night of an unforgettable play with a forgettable title having its first tryout in Boston (see the dramaturgy notes by A. Nora Long for more info on this). Diva Irene Livingston (Paula Plum playing the part of Bette Davis as Irene Livingston), producer Sidney Black (Will LeBow), and director Carleton Fitzgerald (Will McGarrahan) anticipate the performance in their own unique yet melodramatically similar ways. A cast of supporting characters of family and friends, respond to their theatrics with the stoic reserves of martyrs… Except for the playwright, Peter Sloan (Alejandro Simoes), who can’t cope with all the offstage drama that accompanies his play. Egos are pummeled, threats are made, but in the end it’s another beautiful day to be in the Biz.

This production is lead by the grand dames and monsieurs of Boston theatre. These are the local actors that the Lyric and many other theatres owe their successes of the past #*@ years. They were wonderful:

LeBow and Kathy St. George (as Frances Black) chewed the scenery together delightfully. They made a realistic, sassy pair. LeBow had the audience in the palm of his hand. He wasn’t delivering monologues so much as prepping for his 5 minute standup set.

Bobbie Steinbach was an unforgettable stage Mom with a heart of snark. She was an excellent foil for McGarrahan. She was the sour to his whiskey.

Actually, the only loose cog was was Jordan Clark – who normally gives a splendid performance regardless of her role. In this production, she was wooden. It’s so strange because this is very much not her MO. One can’t always be successful. I’m sure she’ll be back to blowing our hearts and minds soon.

The play is funny and touching. It isn’t a musical but does include darling performances of Cole Porter’s “Another Op’nin, Another Show” and Noel Coward’s “Why Must the Show Go On?” sung by the cast. It’s a slice of classic Hollywood grandeur set on the stage. Fans of the classics will love this one. Everyone else should see it because it’s wonderful.

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