Theatre Mirror Reviews "The Heidi Chronicles"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"The Heidi Chronicles"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Trinity Repertory Company's current show is "The Heidi Chronicles" by Wendy Wasserstein. Heidi Holland is coming of age during the crest of second-wave feminism. From her high school days in the idealistic 1960's to her adult years in the materialistic 1980's, she finds herself wanting everything a good liberal baby boomer expects she can have: career, family and an equal partner. Is it truly possible? See the world through the eyes of a woman looking for identity, truth and family, and confronting what it takes to have it all. The show is told in flashback and starts when she is a successful art historian giving a lecture in 1989. It goes back to 1965 when she is a bobby soxer, wall flower at a dance with her best friend, Susan when she meets her life long friend, Peter Patrone. The next scene is when she meets the other man in her life, Scoop Rosenbaum, a cad where women are concerned but a good magazine editor. We follow Heidi's escapades throughout the years when she makes a self discovery of woman achievers wanting to find equal footing in a world dominated by men. Director Vivienne Benesch takes this well written script, infuses high energy in her talented cast as well as blends the comic and dramatic moments together perfectly. Her musical selections reflect the mood of the country during each segment. This magnificent show receives a well deserved and resounding standing ovation as its reward on a job extremely well done.

Leading this talented cast is Angela Brazil as Heidi Holland. She commands the stage as Heidi. Angela is phenomenal in this role, delivering a multifaceted performance. She goes from a naive school girl to mature savvy women by the end of the show. She changes costumes onstage from scene to scene, making things move smoothly. Angela runs the gamut of emotions and delivers an amazing monologue at her alma mater in 1986. She holds the audience spellbound during it. Another standout scene is when she and Peter connect as friends on their 22nd anniversary of their first meeting when she delivers her personal items for his pediatric practice at midnight. Heidi is running away from her problems but in this poignant and dramatic scene reconnects with her friend in a gut wrenching, emotion packed scene that leaves the audience in tears. Brava on a superb performance!

The supporting cast is just as terrific as Angela. Charlie Thurston is marvelous whether he is being funny or dramatic. He delivers the goods from the moment Peter meets Heidi at the high school dance. You think they will end up together only to discover in a comic scene that he is gay which thoroughly shocks Heidi. Their friendship survives through the years and especially funny is the interview on TV segment while the gut wrenching hospital scene tugs on your heartstrings. Mauro Hantman is perfect as the womanizing cad, Scoop who Peter calls "Poop" behind his back. He is charismatic as this character. Scoop worms his way into Heidi's bed but can't remain faithful to one woman even after he marries the Southern belle, Lisa. Scoop keeps trying to reconnect with Heidi but after all these years, she knows him like the back of her hand. Both actors are fantastic in these roles.

Another strong performance is by Rachel Christopher as Heidi's best friend, Susan. We meet her at the high school dance when she asks Heidi to hike up her skirt to make it short enough to attract a boy. She eventually grows into a TV executive making dumb sitcoms after working for Eugene McCarthy in 1968, then forming a self help group for women and afterwards living in a woman's collective in Montana. Rachel makes the transitions from scene to scene wonderfully. The other four performers play multiple roles. Rebecca Gibel is fantastic as she plays an older woman in the self help scene, the trophy Southern belle, wife, Lisa and finally the bubble headed TV interviewer. She is hilarious in these roles as is Anna Miles as Fran, the in your face, lesbian, Lisa's younger sister, Denise and Susan's assistant in the LA scene. Other comic performers are Ashley Monique Butler as Becky whose boyfriend mistreats her,as Debbie, the militant art protester, and as the pregnant, Betsy. Joe Wilson Jr. is a hoot as Chris, a high school boy, Mark, a stoner, a TV attendant, a waiter who has a fling with Peter and as Ray, a fellow doctor at Peter's hospital. So to witness a well acted and well directed show, be sure to catch "The Heidi Chronicles" at Trinity Repertory Company. This show will resonate with both male and female audience members as they observe the high standards of theatrical achievement once again at this awesome regional theatre.

"The Heidi Chronicles" (3 December - 3 January)
@ 201 Washington Street, PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide