Sunday, May 1, 2011

REVIEW: The People In the Picture (New York)

Roundabout Theater Company Studio 54 (New York), Sunday April 24

The one thing that stood out from this musical is the beautifully woven book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart. This musical about love and alienation between three generations of mothers and daughters is set in Nazi occupied Poland and New York in the 80's (?). The story focuses on the choices made by Raisel (played by Donna Murphy) in deciding not to move to Hollywood with her fiancé, her desperate decision to save her baby from the Nazis by giving her up to a couple and her decision to get her little girl back after the war. These decisions eventually led to nagging resentments that slowly surfaces as the mothers and daughters get older and need to make hard decisions.

The musical is a showcase piece for a powerhouse musical actress, and this was amply fulfilled by Donna Murphy. It was a wonder to see how Murphy shifted back and forth in portraying an old lady and a woman. The delineation of her portrayal was clear and even more impressive considering that the two world she was in the story were played out almost simultaneously.

Donna Murphy was not alone, however. I truly can't name a single performer, be it principal or not, who was not first rate in his/her role. In particular, Rachel Resheff's Jenny and Andie Mechanic's young Red were astounding! By the way, so far I have seen ten musicals during this trip and every single child on stage performed amazingly.

The staging reflected the title of the musical with a big picture frame hanging diagonally toward the audience, while more frames came in and out as the story unfolded. The use of dancers during scene change and in narratives were pretty standard, while the choreography was nothing special and was the weakest point of the musical.


The People in the Picture
Preview started in Broadway on April 1 2011 and opened in Broadway on April 28 2011
Lyrics by: Iris Rainer Dart
Music by: Mike Stoller and Artie Butler
Book by: Iris Rainer Dart

Creative Team:
Leonard Foglia (Direction)
Andy Blankenbuehler (Musical Staging)
Riccardo Hernandez (Set Design)
Ann Hould-Ward (Costume Design)
James F. Ingalls (Lighting Design)
Dan Moses Schreier (Sound Design)
Paul Gemignani (Musical Direction)
Michael Starobin (Orchestrations)
Elaine J. McCarthy (Projection Design)

Cast Includes:
Donna Murphy (Bubbie/Raisel)
Alexander Gemignani (Moishe Rosenwald)
Christopher Innvar (Chaim Bradovsky)
Nicole Parker (Red)
Rachel Resheff (Jenny)
Hal Robinson (Doovie Feldman)
Lewis J. Stadlen (Avram Krinsky)
Joyce Van Patten (Chayesel Fisher)
Chip Zien (Yossie Pinsker)

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