Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Me in the Mirror"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Larry Stark

"The Me in the Mirror"

by Paul Kahn
adapting Connie Panzarino's autobiography to the stage
Directed by Daniel Gidron

Scenic Design by Paul Theriault
Lighting Design by Karen Perlow
Costume Design by Bob Pagliarulo
Sound Design by Rick Brenner
Production Stage Manager Meg Boone

Eliza Rose Fichter
Child Connie

Lori Frankian
Connie Panzarino

Kerrie Kitto
Judy 1, Physical Therapist, 2nd Neighbor, Nun, Tutor, Teacher, Secretary, Trustee, Carol, 2nd Young Woman, Graduation Speaker, Mary, Delores, Woman II, Joan, Fran, 1st Neighbor, Martha, Barbara, Lucy, Liza

Emily Knapp
Mirror Self, Juanita, 1st Neighbor, School Nurse, 3rd Tutor, 4th Student, 2nd Student, Mickey, Pidgey, Linda, 2nd Neighbor II, Michelle

Roy Souza
Father, 1st Student I, Entertainer, Glen, 1st Student, 1st Man, Interviewer, Policeman II, Uncle Peter, Dr. Madonia, Urologist

Derek Stearns
Ron, Doctor I, 1st Tutor, 3rd Student, Frankie, Chairman of Library Trustees, VR Councillor, Welfare Worker, Man II

Debra Wise
Mother, 2nd Student I, Reporter, Waiter, Priscilla, Mora II

Paul Kahn's stage adaptation of Connie Panzarino's autobiography "The Me in the Mirror" is a stage rarity: it's the kind of snippet-scened docu-drama most people would be content to see as a public-service movie. But even done on a nearly bare stage with black rehearsal clothes on five actors doing fifty-eight distinct roles, live action brings immediacy and power and, in Daniel Gidron's swiftly moving production, all the triumphs, pains, pleasures and hurts of a torrentially wilful life. And the vigor of the playing never flags.

Eliza Rose Fichter plays Connie B.C. (Before Chair, when the child who could barely move only a few of her limbs at all is carried or carted around like her own rag-doll) and Lori Frankian Connie A.C.(when her dogged fight for independence and equality of life and opportunity begins to roll in earnest.) Each one talks with a Mirror Self (Emily Knapp) that affirms her best, most feisty and sincere self at times of crisis. Lori Frankian whips her mechanical wheelchair around the BCA's Black Box space like a perfectly trained show-pony, whipping from one short scene to the next, spraying trenchantly telling lines and self-deprecating or ego-deflating barbs in all directions, whether she can straighten her proud neck or not. And Fichter is letter-perfect and dead-on as a kid learning to cope successfully with the continual results of her one major problem.

Kerrie Kitto, tall and black and uppity, sprays characters in all directions --- twenty of them! --- and in addition to Mirror Self Emily Knapp adds eleven more. Roy Souza is Connie's understanding father and Debra Wise her put-upon and ambivalent mother, plus ten and five bit-roles respectively, while Derek Stearns who blossoms as Ron Kovic, Connie's paraplegic anti-Vietnam-vet lover, clicks in eight other roles. But because of Paul Kahn's clean writing, Daniel Gidron's clear directing, and the cast's unflagging, breakneck pacing and originality there is never any doubt about who is now what, where everything is taking place, and how each few-second diamond fits into this life's dazzling mosaic.

Once again, and I cannot say this too often, the quality level of writing, directing, acting, and smoothly executed technical detail is, everywhere, superb this year, as sell-out crowds attest. The festival has always been exciting, insightful, and experimental. This year, in addition, Boston Women On Top seems to have come of age artistically.


"The Me In The Mirror" (2 - 5 March)
Boston Center for The Arts, Tremont Street, BOSTON
1(617) 426-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide