Jun 13

The People In The Picture: Uncovering the Past

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Photo: Joan Marcus

The People in the Picture, book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart, music by Mike Stoller and Artie Butler, Roundabout Theatre Company, Studio 54, Broadway, 4/1/11-6/19/11.  http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/broadway/thepeopleinthepicture/index.htm

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

How can we ever forget the past?  How can remember?  These questions surface for Raisel and Red  when Jenny asks her Bubbie who the people in the picture are.  They are Raisel’s friends and theatre/film company.  These people hold the key to Jenny’s heritage and must instill it within her despite her mother’s objections and grandmother’s failing health.  Although the story and score are uneven, the talent and the sentiment carry the show through joy and heartbreak.

Donna Murphy spends the majority of the show as Jenny’s Bubbie who tries to pass down her family’s history.  Ms. Murphy shows her versatility by not only providing a strong dramatic performance but also by providing comedic moments depicting Raisel’s younger days.  Raisel shows her granddaughter Jenny (played by Rachel Resheff) the life that she and her theatre/film company had.  She tries to only share positive memories, but the horrible realities underneath keep seeping through.  Raisel’s daughter Red (played by Nicole Parker) pushes for the entire truth to be known and not simply a pleasant mythology.  Ms. Murphy’s acting, singing, and dancing flow effortlessly and show the whimsy, pain, and sacrifice that make up Raisel’s life. Continue reading

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Nov 22

The Religion of Family

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Vengeance is the Lord’s by Bob Glaudini, WORLD PREMIERE, Huntington Theatre Company, 11/12/10-12/12/10.  http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/season/production.aspx?id=8511

Larry Pine (Mathew Horvath) and Karl Baker Olsen (Donald Horvath) in Vengeance Is The Lord's, by Bob Glaudini, directed by Peter DuBois. Photo by T Charles Erickson

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

“Honor thy father and mother” is the first and only commandment in the Horvath family.  In Vengeance Is The Lord’s, the Horvath family sticks together, supports each other—in all endeavors—but to what end?  The play starts out with a normal family Thanksgiving scene; the father starts by telling about his need to turn someone in who stole a car and the mother talks about forgiveness for Myers, their daughter’s killer.  As the story unfolds, however, the veneer is lifted to reveal not only hypocrisy but also an active crime family.  The audience and the youngest son Donny begin to question what justice means and how far love and loyalty should extend within a family.

The set by Eugene Lee provides a “gilded cage” for the Horvaths.  The house looks like any normal suburban household—with one exception—Cheryl’s room.  While it seems like any other bedroom in any other house, this bedroom haunts the Horvath family.  Along with the Horvath family, the audience is constantly reminded of the empty room and Cheryl’s horrific murder as the house spins on a turntable.  The effect of the turntable mirrors the family’s discontent; when they slow down or stop, the family ends up confronting problems that they would rather ignore.   The lighting design by Japhy Weideman, the sound design by Ben Emerson, and the original music by David Van Tieghem add to the tense domestic scene.

The actors form a cohesive family unit.  Roberta Wallach stands firm as the matriarch of the Horvath family, Margaret.  Wallach creates a woman who lives in pain, but who is strong and relatively self-sufficient; however, as the play progresses and the emotional pain becomes too much to bear, the character gives in to the physical operation.  Wallach reveals through this concession that Margaret has deferred some of her resolve to Matthew and Woody. Continue reading

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