Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Little Me"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | CURTAIN | USHER | INTERMISSION |



"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


Reviews of Current Productions


entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


"Little Me"

Book by Neil Simon
Lyrics by Carol Leigh
Music by Cy Coleman
Based on a novel by Patrick Dennis

Directed and Choreographed by David H. Bell
Music Director M. Michael Fauss

Scenic Design by Dex Edwards
Costume Design by Nancy Missimi
Lighting Designed by Kendall Smith
Sound Design by John Stone
Dance Captain David Meinke
Production Stage Manager Pat A. Flora

George...........................................David Meinke
Bernie Buschbaum...........................David Patrick Ford
Bennie Buschbaum, Pinchley Jr. ...................Hunter Bell
Momma..........................................Lisa Braverman
Nurse..............................................Sue Delano
Pharaoh............................................David Kent
Kleeg..........................................T. Oliver Reed
Ramona...........................................Amanda Turner
Colette..................................Leslie Trayner-Harvey
Brucey...........................................Adam Williams
Older Belle......................................Lenora Nemetz
Younger Belle...................................Christy Morton
Yulnick, Mrs. Eggleston, Ship's Captain, Leighland, General, Preacher, &
Nurse............................................................Glenn Rainey
Patrick Dennis, Noble Eggleston, Noble Junior, Mr. Pinchley, Val Du Val,
Fred Poitrine, Otto Schnitzler, & The Prince........Gene Weygandt

Keyboards...................Robert Strickland
Percussion.....................Mark Worgaftik
Woodwinds.....................Bill Carmichael
Trumpet..............................Jay Daly
Trombone.......................Walter Bostian


Where has "Little Me" been all our lives! Maybe it's been waiting for David H. Bell (Associate Artistic Director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Company) to dust it off, punch it up, and launch all its bombastic marionettes dancing dizzily across the circular stage of our consciousness. It has its quirks, and Bell hasn't solved some problems with the middle of the second act, but the swift snap of hilarious lines and intricate dance-steps spilling precisely in all directions probably should be seen twice for full appreciation.

With the exceptions of Lisa Braverman and David Kent, no one in this company including the director ever worked on the big round North Shore Music Theatre stage, but they make it their own. Bell has his cast tap-dancing and turkey-trotting in tennis-shoes all over Dex Edwards' gleaming black and white stage like puppets on speed, shrugging in and out of Nancy Missimi's costumes, all playing bits out of Belle Poitrine's long, unbelievable life.

Neil Simon's book was based on Patrick Dennis's book, and he begins by having Gene Weygandt play Patrick Dennis interviewing Lenora Nemetz as Belle, while Christie Morton re-enacts her story as the younger Belle --- and Weygandt quick-changes into seven of the men in her life, most of whom she married, and everyone else plays ... everyone else. The engine of this production is the lightning change from one outrageous caricature to another, often with a single sentence or a single word defining a whole personality.

Belle begins her life story being snubbed by her childhood sweetheart's mother because she's the poor daughter of a "nurse" from The Other Side of The Tracks who hasn't money, culture, or social position enough to marry such a gleaming, priggish paragon. Her quest for all three takes her to an elderly plutocrat's bedroom, the vaudeville stage, a French cabaret, entertaining troops in World War I, the deck of a Titanic likealook, movie-making in early Hollywood, and the deathbed of the gambler-prince of a country not much larger than the NSMT stage.

Along the way it becomes Gene Weygandt's story and not really Belle Poitrine's. As the director of a silent epic, his capers opening night included breaking the story's frame to talk to the audience about the show. It was hard to tell whether these interruptions in the story were his own capricious asides, the uncharacteristic lapses of the director, or perhaps fossilized asides left over from the show's original star, Sid Caesar.

When everyone stays on track, and when Nemetz and Morton have the young and old Belle belting "Little Me" together, the goofy bombast and springy staging spew out laughs too fast to follow, and songs no one's ever heard since the Broadway run closed get to blossom all over again.

In a production rattling along this fast no one stops to underscore the possibility that Belle's reminiscences may, well, bend the truth a little, but with everything else bubbling over that extra dimension is hardly missed.

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark)

"Little Me" (till 27 September)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
1(617)922-8500
Check their web site

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | CURTAIN | USHER | INTERMISSION |