Theatre Mirror Reviews "Light up The Sky"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Light up The Sky"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Lyric Stage Company of Boston's final show of their 41st season is "Light Up the Sky", a comedy written by Moss Hart. The original show opened on November 18, 1948 and ran for 214 performances. It is set in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston where the principals of a play called ''The Time is Now" by a novice writer, gather on opening night. The show takes place in Miss Livingston's hotel room prior to the opening and follows a truck-driver-turned-playwright watching his first play produced in Boston. The backstage comedy features the grandly temperamental leading lady; her sarcastic,gin rummy playing mother; the flamboyant director; the lowbrow producer; and his ice-skating, wise-cracking wife. The opening night seems to go awry and the producer, cast and everyone believe it to be a flop. They turn against themselves,the producer and the author. However when it turns out the reviews are favorable, the tables are turned and the novice author takes command of the situation at last. Director Scott Edmiston casts these 10 roles beautifully, eliciting topnotch performances from his hardworking cast. They deliver much merriment to the audience with their wild and crazy antics, leading to nonstop laughter all night long.

Scott's blocking is excellent, having his performers use the entire stage area. His keen insight into these characters is astounding. Scott adds some songs to the show including "Another Opening, Another Show", "Why Make the Show Go On?" and "There's No Business Like Show Business" to enhance the comedic punch of the show. The breathtaking gorgeous Ritz Carlton Hotel room complete with two chandeliers and French Provincial furniture is by Janie E. Howland and the gorgeous multitude of 1940's costumes are by Gail Astrid Buckley. Playing the diva-like actress, Irene Livingston is Paula Plum who is superb in this role. She goes from being faint to madcap to manic to depressed to sickly in a wink of an eye. She is reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn with her delivery of lines as this 1940's actress. Her stock broker husband, Tyler Rayburn who is thrust into her shadow is played by Terrence O'Malley. Tyler knows about big finances but not the theatre. Terrence does a great job as the brow beaten husband of the star and displays his singing voice in "I Cain't Say No" because Tyler went to "Oklahoma" and not his wife's show.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Bobbie Steinbach as Irene's wise cracking gambler, mother, Stella. She has some of the best one liners that range from insulting people to praising them and back again. This woman not only loves to drink but plays gin rummy which she always wins. Bobbie is a hoot in this role and her description of how she disguised her self as cleaning lady is hysterical, too. Will McGarrahan is very funny as Carleton Fitzgerald, the moody, weepy director who is very superstitious and believes in omens and good luck charms. Fitzgerald gives Irene, Dusa's necklace to wear for good luck. He runs roughshod over everyone he works with in this play within a play, delivering many laughs while doing so. Will sings "Another Opening" while playing the piano during the opening scene.

The other scene stealers in this play are Will LeBow who plays Sidney Black and Kathy St. George who plays his blonde ice skating wife, Frances. Will is a whirlwind of power and energy as this rich producer. His line delivery is flawless and he commands the stage with his presence. Kathy is another human dynamo with her excellent Brooklyn accent. Her funny one liners stop the show with hilarity. They both scene "Why Must the Show Go On?" when they think the show is a flop. Kathy also belts out "Show Business" at the end of the show with the entire cast joining in. They make the perfect humorous couple with their crazy antics and wonderful shtick. The novice writer, Peter Sloane is wonderfully played by Alejandro Simoes. His part is very earnest as he explains he wants the show to be serious and not denigrate into a tawdry farce. He becomes the mouse who roared when he finally stands up to the other characters bullying of him.

Paula's real life husband, Richard Snee plays Owen Turner, a more experienced writer who tries to make Peter understand the wacky world of show business. He has wonderful comic timing and delivery of his lines. Jordan Clark plays Irene's ghost writer who is penning her biography. Her first scene is with a talking parrot and later on she has comic moments with Owen.The Shriner from Indiana, William Gallagher who wants to invest in this show is well played by Bob Mussett. He gushes about this play and show biz. He is eventually ejected from the premises by Sidney Black after he shows the reviews to everyone in the room. So for a fun filled 1940's comedy that still brings laughter to current day audiences, be sure to catch "Light Up the Sky" at Lyric Stage Company of Boston.

"Light up The Sky" (15 May - 13 June)
@ 140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide