Monday, May 26, 2014

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Under My Skin

Matt Walton and Kerry Butler. Photo:  Joan Marcus

Under My Skin
By Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson
The Little Shubert Theatre

What's It All About?
Love, sex and health insurance. From Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser, the writing and producing team who gave us TV hits like "The Nanny" and "Who’s The Boss?" comes this farce starring Broadway darling Kerry Butler (Beauty and the Beast) and Matt Walton directed by Kristen Sanderson.

Butler is Melody Dent, trying to support her rebellious daughter Casey (Allison Strong) and her Alzheimer's-inflicted grandfather, Poppa Sam (Edward James Hyland), with a part-time job without benefits at Amalgamated Healthcare. Her co-worker and best friend, Nanette (Megan Sikora), who's a "sexual harassment suit waiting to happen," thinks getting it on with a rich guy is the answer to their problems. She arranges for Melody to end up in the elevator with Amalgamated's CEO Harrison Babish III (Walton), but instead of falling for her, the elevator falls for both of them, plunging them to their deaths. In walks an angel (Dierdre Friel) who admits there might have been some mistake and sends them back to their lives, only Babish ends up in Melody's body and vice versa. 

The two have to figure out how to live each other's lives. Badish soon finds out that taking care of a family, getting answers from a gynecologist appointment -- and walking in heels -- aren't as easy as he thought. Melody realizes that answering to stockholders and being responsible for the running of a huge company isn't all it's stacked up to be either. She does excel, however, at pleasing Babish's girlfriend, Victoria (Kate Loprest) under the covers since she is, after all, skilled in knowing what a woman wants.

Will the angel figure out how to get these two back in their own bodies? Will romance blossom for one or more of these folks?

What Are the Highlights?
Walton has some humorous moments walking around in those heels and in the female garb designed by Lara de Bruijn. A scene where he hits the bars with Nanette is particularly funny. Hyland brings some pathos to the absurd plot with his portrayal of a man ever confused if he doesn't get his dinner at precisely 5:30. His delivery of the line, "I don't know, I got dementia," in response to a question easily was the biggest laugh. Friel is funny as the angel with an attitude.

What Are the Lowlights?
Much of this might have worked in a zany TV setting where we know the characters like Fran Fine or Tony Micelli (in fact, a couple of the lines would have been funnier if delivered by Fran Drescher), but on stage, it falls flat.

"What is it," Melody asks.

"It's Mayan," replies Babibish.

"I know it's yours....."


Other Information:
Under My Skin plays through July 6 at The Little Shubert Theatre, 422 West 42nd St. This is not the big Shubert -- it's between 9th and 10th avenues, NYC).

Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexual Dialogue
-- Sexual activity
-- Sexual situations
-- Lord's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality

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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 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. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other 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

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

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

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

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


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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