Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: The Little Foxes


The Little FoxesBy Lillian Hellman
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
Manhattan Theatre Club

By Lauren Yarger
In April, the busiest month of theater, when all of the last shows rush to open before awards deadlines, what could ever convince me to go back and see a play right after I just had seen it?

For Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, it was the chance to see stars Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon trade off the roles of Regina Giddens and Birdie Hubbard At certain performances, Linney plays uppity, ambitious Regina, who isn't going to let her brothers, Oscar Hubbard (Darren Goldstein) and Ben (a superby Michael McKean), cheat her out of any of the money from the lucrative deal her family is striking with Mr. Marshall (David Alford) to save their business.

Her cold heart isn't warmed either by her estranged and infirm husband, Horace (Richard Thomas), or daughter, Alexandra (Frances Carpanni), who obviously adores her kind father more than her overbearing mother.

The girl, in fact, is the apple of the eye of her Aunt Birdie (Nixon), who also has a soft spot for Horace. She has loftier hopes for her niece than the same fate she had forced upon her: to be married for her money -- even if the man who will benefit is her own son, untrustworthy and cruel Leo (Michael Benz). Birdie hides the physical abuse she suffers at the hands of Oscar and urges the girl to get away before it's too late.

But then switch! The next performance, Linney is shy, almost-invisible Birdie and Nixon is calculating, manipulative Regina.  It's fascinating to watch, not only because the actresses, directed by Daniel Sullivan, so easily produce such different characters, but because of the consistency in the performances of the supporting actors as well. There is virtually no difference in the presentation or chemistry between the women and the others with whom the interact. This is some pretty great acting we get to witness and if you have the opportunity to see both versions, I urge you to do so. Personal preference: Linney as Birdie, which is opposite from the opening-night casting. The two seemed a perfect fit in these roles and allowed for great depth.

Jane Greenwood's period costumes take us to the turn of the 20th Century and Set Designer Scott Pask places us in a rich southern manse owned now by the Giddens, but where Birdie fondly remembers an Alabama childhood where things were gentile and sweet. Ownership passed to her husband, however, and now she feels like an unwelcome guest at . Filling out the cast is Caroline Stefanie Clay as family servant Addie. It's a tale of time gone by, greed, deception and some of the worst family relationships you can imagine.

It's pretty absorbing and surprisingly contemporary for a play that was written in 1939. And it makes me want to see it again, maybe this time with Bette Davis starring as Regina in the 1941 film.

The Little Foxes steal from the hen house at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St., NYC. littlefoxesbroadway.com.

Family-Friendly Factors:
-- God's name taken in vain

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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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