Monday, September 11, 2017

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Curvy Widow

Nancy Opel. Photo: T. Charles Erickson
Curvy Widow
Music and Lyrics by Drew Brody
Book By Bobby Goldman
Choreography by Marcos Santana
Directed by Peter Flynn
West Side Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
Say the words Nancy Opel and I smile. The extraordinarily voiced and comedic genius actress has graced the stage in many shows including Beautiful, Honeymoon in Vegas, Memphis, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, Urinetown, Triumph of Love, Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George and Evita among others and I never have not loved watching her work.

She is starring Off-Broadway in Curvy Widow, the true story of Bobby Goldman, a construction company owner who suddenly finds herself alone when her famous writer husband, Jim -- that's James Goldman, author of Follies, "The Lion in Winter," A Family Affair), played by Ken Land, dies. Mostly unmemorable Music (except for "It's Not a Match") with witty and Lyrics by Drew Brody drive Bobby's book about her experiences at trying to date again. Getting a special shout out for storytelling, here, however, is Scenic Designer Rob Bissinger, who expertly changes locations (two apartments) and moods with a few props. A pair of slippers next to the bed speaks volumes.Costume Designed Brian C. Hemesath is on board for quick change also, having Opel switch only tops to slip between situations in the fast-paced hour and 45 minutes.

The ensemble cast, which appears crowded on the small Westside Theatre stage as they play Bobby's friends, her psychiatrist and dates -- disastrous and otherwise -- are put through their paces by Director Peter Flynn and Choreographer Marcos Santana. Besides Land, they include Andrea Bianchi,  Aisha de Haas, Elizabeth Ward Land, Alan Muraoka (standing out) and Chris Shyer. 

We follow post 50-year-old Bobby as she navigates the new and strange world of online dating. Curvy Widow is her "handle" on the sites.. She is at once intrigued and repulsed by the fact that hundreds of men who have never seen her (she refuses to post a photo) and who know her only by her alias, might be willing to have sex with her. We experience her first date, her experimentation with a sex site and the discovery of one match that might be different from the others. All of this takes place while she is haunted by guilt over wondering whether Jim would be OK with what she is doing -- well, maybe she's really haunted more by his ghost.

Opel throws herself into the role and sings some lovely mote combinations that made me very happy. The show is somewhat uneven, however, despite previous out-of-town runs. And it's a little hard to relate to Bobby, especially when she decides to make married men a non-committal specialty. (You might have a chance to hear from the real Booby in person, however, as she occasionally does post-show talks and answers questions from the audience).

More Information:
Curvy Widow plays at The Westside Theatre, Upstairs, 407 West 43rd St., NYC Performances are Monday at 8 pm, Tuesday at 7 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $79-$99: 212-239-6200; www.CurvyWidow.com.

Additional credits:
Lighting Design by Matthew Richards; Sound Design by Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab; Musical Direction by Andrew Sotomayor; Orchestrations, Arrangements and Music Supervision by Wayne Barker

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Suggestive situations

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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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