Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Theater Review: White’s Lies

Tuc Watkins, Peter Scolari and Christy Carlson Romano
PHOTO CREDIT KEN HOWARD

A Breakneck Speed and Some Good Old Fun
By Lauren Yarger
If you can keep up with the speedy dialogue and quick-change sets in the Off-Broadway production of Ben Andron’s White’s Lies, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying the play, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why.

Tuc Watkins (of TV’s “Desperate Housewives”) stars as Joe White, a womanizing divorce lawyer who depends on partner, Alan (a fine, but underused Peter Scolari), to come by early every morning and interrupt the trysts held at the office so that the cad doesn’t have to breakfast with (or feign any kind of commitment to) his conquests. He’s content with his life until a sobering visit from his estranged mother (Betty Buckley), who wants to put their differences aside after being told that she doesn’t have long to live. Her one regret, she tells her son, is that he didn’t give her a grandchild.

When an old college flame, Barbara (Andrea Grano), wants the expensive firm to represent her in her divorce, White offers a trade instead: his services free in exchange for Barbara's going along with a scheme to convince Mrs. White that Barbara’s daughter, Michelle (Christy Carlson Romano), is the product of her past relationship with White yielding an instant granddaughter. Romano, known to fans of TV’s “Kim Possible,” wears the coolest wardrobe and shoes ever thanks to costume designer Michael Bevins.

A highlight of the play is Robert Andrew Kovach’s set design which transforms the office into a restaurant/bar where the owner (Jimmy Ray Bennett, who plays multiple roles) changes the establishments from American to Mexican to French, to sleazy bar, etc., almost instantaneously with the use of some rotating walls and a cracker-jack stage crew. Changing almost as quickly is Rena Strober, who plays to humorous satisfaction various women White has taken advantage of in his past.

The script is totally predictable, and you’d think some of the bits re-used multiple times throughout the play would grow old, but Director Bob Cline infuses a high-speed farce tempo on the ever-complicating piece that doesn’t let you think about it too much. In fact, some of the punch lines are delivered in such a drive-by style, that they don’t hit you until a few seconds later (there’s a great line about Buckley’s character not being able to sing).

The show also works because the cast appears to be having a lot of fun themselves. When Romano’s unbelievably high, spiked heel caused her to trip while exiting, Buckley gamely adlibbed, “she’s a little clumsy, but lovely” to the delight of the cast and audience. When Romano returned, she comically gave the chaise lounge, over which she’d tripped, a wide berth.

The characters are likable as well. You want everything to work out for them, and because the script really isn’t that complicated, of course it does. It’s an enjoyable night at the theater – if you can just keep up.

White’s Lies plays at New World Stages, 340 West 50th St., NYC. For tickets call (212) 239-6200. Group discounts are available for friends of Masterwork Productions at http://www.givenik.com/show_info.php/Masterworks/251/groups.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Lord’s name taken in vain
• Sex outside of marriage

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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