Providence College's Theatre Department's winter show is "Marie Antoinette:The Color of Flesh" by Joel Gross. This show is a dramatic love triangle set during the turbulent years of the French Revolution. Media spin and class struggle bring up images of current events by the author utilizes these issues in his script set in the 18th century. Elisabeth Vigee le Brun, a beautiful, social-climbing portrait painter, uses her affair with Count Alexis de Ligne, a left-leaning philanderer, to get a commission to paint the young naive Queen Marie Antoinette. While Elisa uses the Queen to further her career and Alexis uses her to further his political goals, both learn to love the woman they're exploiting. Elisa becomes the Queen's best friend, and Alexis becomes the Queen's lover. Elisa tries to end the scandalous affair between the Queen and Alexis, both out of concern for the Queen's political position and jealousy over Alexis' love, until the Revolution shatters all three lives. Director Joe Short obtains stunning performances from his three member cast with his keen insight into the characters and his creative blocking on the unit set by Cheryl de Wardener.
Joe blends the comic and dramatic moments together beautifully and blends the scenes together, keeping the show flowing smoothly all night long. I first reviewed Joe as an undergrad at URI as Tom Joad in "Grapes of Wrath" in October, 2004. This is the first time I have reviewed him as a director and he puts the same passion and professionalism into his direction as he put in his acting. Joe is now a theatre professor at URI. The live music by Jen Langivan, a senior music major at URI, enhances the production, setting the mood wonderfully. Courteney Olenzak is amazing as the feisty portrait painter trying to gain a foothold in a typical male dominated field of endeavor. She delivers a nuanced performance as the strong willed woman of the past. Her transition when she realizes that she cares about both her friends is well done. Katcy Stephan also delivers the goods as the naive Queen but has a hidden strength to obtain what she wants. Her transition comes after being with the King for seven years before consumating the marriage. Katcy shows great depth as this real life woman whom people thought as being frivolous about the current day events. I last reviewed Katcy as the saucy, outspoken maid in "The Imaginary Invalid". Also giving a strong performance is Ben Williams as Alexis who is caught by his love for two very different women. He is also a political activist wanting to help George Washington and eventually becoming involved with the American Revolution. Even though Alexis is a count, he wants liberty and equality for the peasants, too. I first reviewed Ben as the crazy director in "Curtains" at Providence College. So for brilliantly acted and directed historical drama, be sure to catch this show. A word of praise for the multitude of gorgeous costumes by Lisa Polito of Boston.