Theatre Mirror Reviews - "It's Only A Play"

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entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"It's Only A Play"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone Granite Theatre's latest show is the Terrance McNally comedy, "It's Only a Play". The show is about the opening night of "The Golden Egg" on Broadway. The wealthy producer, Julia Budder, is throwing a party in her lavish Manhattan townhouse. Downstairs the celebrities are pouring in, but the real action is upstairs where a group of insiders have staked themselves out in the producer's bedroom waiting for the reviews to come in. Included are the excitable author, the brilliant but unstable director (who courts failure and is devastated when his work is well received), the dope smoking leading lady (who is hoping to revive her career after a series of flop movies) and the playwright's best friend, a gay, egotistical but insecure comic actor who passed up the chance to star in the play only to find out his television series has just been cancelled. Also present are a fawning, hypercritical drama critic who is secretly a closet playwright, a would be singer who just arrived from Kansas, working as a waiter at the party and a hardboiled lady taxi driver who has seen it all many times over and sets these crazy show business people straight about what kind of shows the audience really likes. The madcap quality of these theatrical people brings a joyous flavor to this comic romp, making for an enjoyable look at the antics in a behind the scene look at the behavior or the misbehavior in show biz. Director David Jepson casts the best 8 people in these roles and keeps the show in constant motion with his clever and insightful direction into the foibles of these eccentric characters.

David not only directs the show but designed a gorgeous expensive looking New York set, complete with chandelier. Aiding David in this undertaking is his stage manager, Michael Chiaradio who keeps things running smoothly backstage with the numerous props and the entrances and exits of the actors. Morgan ban Draoi handles the mulitude of sound cues, including the TV reviews as well as the lighting cues, too.

Leading this talented bunch of crazies is Ray Daponte as the tres gay actor, James Wicker. He is a hoot in this part of the catty, nasty friend of the author who secretly hates his show but keeps up the pretense of liking it. Ray delivers his many one liners with ease and is especially funny when Frank Rich of the NY Times says that Charles Nelson Reilly is a more manly actor than James is. Sharon Miceli is the long suffering producer who has to endure the demands of the director, actors and author. She has to please them all without driving her crazy. Sharon does a great job in her comic role of the rich woman who wants to produce quality theater on Broadway. David Hicks as Peter Austin who is true to life as a whining, nagging author of a play who gets upset when even one word is out of place. (An actress says could in place of would and this sets the high strung writer off.) He gets more manic as the reviews come in and vows never to write another play but this all changes when someone else tries to steal his thunder and he composes one immediately. Beth Jepson is a scream as the over the top, dope smoking actress, Virginia Noyes who needs this role in the "Golden Egg" to make a comeback in the theatre. Her Theda Bara wig is perfect for the part of this out of control person.

The depressed director,Frank Finger, who loves to yell and scream at everyone is played by Arthur Pignataro. Frank has been in analysis for years and is a closet kleptomaniac. The nasty critic who hates authors is played by Frank Pendola. He tries to foist a play on these people while trying to explain why he has ripped them apart in his reviews for years. One of his funniest lines is when he tells them about an actor who while playing Hamlet, gets booed and has things thrown at him and the actor stops the show and tells the audience, "Hey, I didn't write this shit." The harried waiter, Gus P. Head who has to carry in a multitude of coats is played by John Cillino. Gus tries to audition during the party, singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head". Last but not least is Mary Sue Chiaradio as Emma Bovary, the cabdriver who tells them what she thinks. She isn't impressed by who they are and brings them down to earth with her wisdom. The whole cast plays their roles so well and the audience has no trouble telling what their characters are all about. So for a fun filled evening at an insiders look at what happens behind the scenes in a show, be sure to catch, "It's Only a Play" before it's too late. It will definitely make you laugh out loud when you see it.

"It's Only A Play" ( 21 May - 13 June)
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY R I
1 (401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide