September 11th was a big day in the Garner household.  My sister Katie delivered her firstborn, Patrick Anthony Yuen, two weeks before her due date.  I got an offer from Musical Theatre West to play the Witch in Big Fish.  And Andre was offered a job back in New York.

He deliberated for a bit.  He had teaching responsibilities at Cal State Long Beach,  I had just started teaching private voice lessons and adult ballet.  “I think you should take it,” I said.  “In fact, I’ll be mad at you if you don’t take it.”

We had both been praying for a sign to tell us what our next steps should be.  Sometimes I think that there is some sort of delay in our prayers reaching the heavens.  We had been treading water out here rather desperately for the last two months.  And then when God finally hears your prayers– like, the messenger angels pull it together or something– he whacks you over the head with His answers.  At least that’s what happened to us.

Andre got the offer to do How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a mini-tour that plays Chicago and New York.  I could do Big Fish and join Andre back East in time for Thanksgiving.  Then September 18th we went to New York for a weekend to visit baby Patrick and go to a wedding.  While there, a situation arose that mandated that we return to our New York apartment.  I can’t go into too much detail here, but let’s just say we’re in big trouble with our co-op board and looking at a hefty fine, if not worse.  We returned to the West Coast with plans to move back East, and we’d been back about a week when our car got stolen.  Suddenly, we felt flush with heavenly signals.  “All right, we’re going!”  Andre and I would shout into thin air.  California no longer seemed welcoming, and it seemed imperative that we get back to NY as quickly as possible.  And to top it all off, the Brooklyn apartment received a letter from both the IRS and the Canadian Revenue Service.  Yes, September was one hell of a month, a month of highs and lows.

The car was recovered in perfect condition.  (High.)  We did however have to pay $200 to get it out of the police tow lot.  (Low.)  Andre and I are thrilled to have acting work.  (High.)  But it requires us to separate for three weeks at the end of October while he starts rehearsals in NYC, and I am left here with Delilah to pack up the apartment and finish my show.  (Low.)  We get to move back to the apartment we bought in the City that we love.  (High.)  Come January, we really can’t afford to live there, and September’s debacle has left us with such bitterness that we want to sell as soon as possible.  (Low.  Anyone looking for a one bedroom in Fort Greene?)

But regardless it’s going to be an adventurous, if not stressful, couple of months.  We constantly remind each other of how fortunate we’ve been.  The car came back untouched, and we can sell it to pay for the reasonably-priced moving company we dug up.  We have a beautiful daughter and a home to return to in NY.  We have well-paying acting jobs for the moment, and the support of friends and family.  Shout out to my cousin Jenny, who called to offer Delta miles to help with holiday travel, and to my friend Steph, who offered her home/baby gear during our stay in Chicago.

We truly are lucky.  And we’re coming home!

Advertisements

 

Elizabeth Maria WalshI was halfway through lunch at a restaurant by myself when I learned that my friend Elizabeth Walsh had died.

Facebook is a terrible way to get bad news.

I sat there, stunned, trying to keep it together.   I knew she wouldn’t want me to honor her memory by turning into a hot mess in the middle of The Cheesecake Factory.  I picked at my all-vegetable salad and tried to finish my drink.   Then I sat in my car and cried.

Back in 2012 my friend had been diagnosed with Stage 4 adrenal cortical cancer and been given two months to live.  She had been fighting like hell ever since.  In June she had left Los Angeles for Miami to be with family, but she assured me that she was coming back.

Adrenocortical carcinoma is so rare and so specific that I don’t even know what it is, exactly.  (A Google search will not help you much.)  All I know is that when she was initially diagnosed, she had cancer EVERYWHERE. And yet when we had lunch in the summer of 2013, when we had both relocated to the West Coast, when I was doing Billy Elliot in Costa Mesa and she had come to see the show, when we sat outside in the sunshine, she declared that she was completely cancer-free.

Puddin' and her "Tia" EWal

Puddin’ and her “Tia” EWal

And somehow, cancer had made her even more beautiful.  Her skin glowed.  She was thinner than I’d ever seen her, yet her arms and legs retained their ballet-dancer grace.  Her limbs were toned and supple, and every movement was graceful.   The hair she had lost to chemo had grown back into an enviable pixie, and her short hair combined with her thin face magnified her already-enormous smile.  She laughed loudly, and often.

I am absolutely bereft.

The www.dictionary.com definition of “bereft,” or rather, “bereave,” is “to deprive and make desolate, usually by death.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

Let me tell you some facts about Elizabeth Maria Walsh.

1.  She listened to Broadway musicals while undergoing radiationElizabeth Maria Walsh, and was frequently told, “Miss Walsh, we need you to lie still.”

2.  A few weeks ago, while going through chemo in Miami, she sent me a series of text messages.  They told the story of our friendship, using funny GIFs and photos pulled from Facebook.  It was all about me, her, our friendship, and my baby Delilah.  Not a word about chemo, which she once described as “the worst pains anyone could ever experience.”  Unfortunately, I was at a wedding at the time, we had been specifically asked to put our phones away, and I got her messages late.  I texted her back quickly, explaining the circumstances and telling her how much I loved her.  I realize now that she was saying goodbye.

3.  She was in multiple callbacks for the Broadway company of In the Heights, and she hadn’t booked it.  When she was cast in the show at Cabrillo Musical Theatre in Sherman Oaks, it was literally a dream come true for her.  However, at the same time she learned that her cancer had come back, that it was spreading and inoperable.  The doctors urged her to skip the show and start chemo right away.   She refused.  She wanted to live her life and perform in her dream show, not spend her last few months wracked with pain.  She wanted to be sore from dancing, not chemo.

4.  I once told a director at a callback that I could die happy if I could play Sally Bowles.  What a dumb-shit thing to say.  I mean, can anyone die happy?  But after doing that production of In the Heights, Elizabeth died having fulfilled a dream.  I’m not sure if the people at Cabrillo realize what a gift they’d given her by simply casting her in that show.  Her other dream was to see her charity, Dancers With Cancer, come to life.  She’d founded this non-profit organization after her first bout with cancer.  She believed dance to be therapeutic, and Dancers With Cancer offers dance classes for children with life-threatening illnesses.  (Family is asking for donations in lieu of flowers.)

5.  She posted this last fall:

“In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking a lot about these past years… I’ve been told things like “You’re such an inspiration.” “I admire you,” or “You’re such a strong person.” And while I am so grateful that these types of comments have been made to me, I can’t help but think, “I’m just a normal girl.” And yes I’ve faced a battle or two at an age where it’s not expected, but I would not be where I am today without the love and support from first and foremost my family, my friends, and everyone else who has joined my incredible support team. For that I am forever grateful and thankful. All of you in your own way have encouraged me to dream big, and in turn I can only hope that every single one of you fight the battles you are given and reach for your dreams as well, whatever they may be. To never lose hope, to always live in love, and to always be thankful even when times are rough.”

6.  She was one of the kindest people I have ever met.

I missed seeing her in In the Heights at Cabrillo.  I wake up at night and lie awake, regretting it.  The show dates conflicted with Puddin’s due date, the theatre was 90 minutes away, and I was scared that I would end up giving birth on the 405.  Elizabeth understood, but I wish I could have seen her shine.

Of course, Elizabeth didn’t need a stage to shine.  Her enormous smile, her laughter, and her presence lit up every room she walked into.  She was a dreamer, but she was a determined and disciplined one– the best kind.  She pursued her dreams, and didn’t let anything stop her, not even cancer.  Because of her I feel compelled to pursue my dreams a little bit harder, to reach a little bit further, to love those around me better, and to never, ever give up.

I love you, “Tia” Elizabeth.  I’ll never forget you.

 

 

 

Given that I have chosen one of the world’s most emotionally traumatizing career paths, I shouldn’t have been surprised when my agent coughed up yet another audition for the national tour of Mary Poppins.  Last year’s audition is chronicled here, and as some of you may remember, it resulted in tears and a clove cigarette.  So this year when I heard they wanted to see me for the exact same part, I had to resist the urge to bang my head against the wall.  Was I to endure the torture a second time?

“They wouldn’t have you back unless you did something right the last time,” my Poppins-cast-member-friend Elizabeth said when I called for support.

“But they didn’t even keep me to dance,” I protested.

“We’re going to go over the dance,” she reassured me.  “You’re going to go in and kick ass.”

Fortified by Elizabeth’s confidence in me, I threw myself into the material and learned the audition tap combination.  (Which would be cheating except everyone does it.)  I arrived Tuesday morning feeling not just prepared, but determined.

This time I was asked to stay and dance along with four other women of various types.  I gave the combination all I had, as did the talented women around me.  My agent called that night.

“You’re the top pick,” she said, “But they can’t offer you the part yet.”  It turns out that the woman I would be replacing hadn’t officially put in her notice.  This sort of preemptive auditioning is rare in my experience.   In Dalmatians they waited until the person’s second to last day before auditioning replacements, throwing on the swing (me) to fill in the gaps.

Nonetheless, I was elated.  I had won the day!  The prize might be forthcoming, but I had Done Something Right.  I called the husband to tell him the news, cracked open a bottle of wine, and settled in to wait.

Actually, the phrase “settled in to wait” isn’t quite accurate.  More like, “paced the apartment, completely unable to focus,” or “obsessed to such an extent that I lost sleep.”  My husband was helpful, as usual.  “Don’t believe anything till you’ve signed the contract,” he warned me.   The rain he poured on my parade came from an honest place:  the issue apparently was that the cast member I would be replacing had been on maternity leave for a year.  (Yeah, Disney gives a year.  Cool, right?)  Last year, I had auditioned to replace her during the length of her leave.   The girl they hired last year instead of me had indicated that she did not want to stay on the road longer than May, and the new mother does not want to return to the tour.  She has told everyone that she intends to give notice.  So they need somebody new.  That’s where I would step in.  “There’s no way she’s taking that baby on tour,” said my friend Stephanie, who had just given birth herself.  “And there’s no way she’s going to leave it at home.  She’s going to park it in New York and wait for the Broadway slot to open up.”

“You don’t know what she’s going to do,” my husband said.  “Don’t get your hopes up.”

My agent said we should know by Friday, April 15th.  Here is a short list of things I have done to fill the time:

1. meditated in the park.

2. got a mani/pedi

3. made potato bacon pie (Weight Watcher’s recipe)

4.  went shopping

5. checked my phone every three seconds.

By Friday I was ready to gnaw off my arm.  I also got hit out of nowhere with a cold, leading me to believe I had worried myself sick.  It might have had something to do with lack of sleep.  I would wake up in the middle of the night to pee and lie awake fantasizing about paying off my credit cards.

But by 6 PM Friday I knew I would have to wait through the weekend.  I wrote the first draft of this blog, mostly to create an outlet for my anxiety.  As an actor you get used to a certain amount of uncertainty regarding the future, but this was epic.  I began to steel myself for rejection.  “Her mother’s coming on the road with her,” I could imagine my agent explaining.  Or “she’s arranged to swap parts with the Broadway girl.”  Or some equally unlikely scenario.

By the following Thursday I had become acquainted with a whole new form of torture:  that of waiting  for The Call.  My initial excitement began to be replaced with frustration.  What is going on?  What is taking so long?  Every night I went to bed thinking, “I’ll get the offer tomorrow.” I was starting to think it was all a figment of my imagination, some sort of psychological defense mechanism, like how people develop multiple personality disorder to cope with severe emotional trauma.  In my case I’m creating imaginary calls from my agent whereby I  imagine I book the part, but there’s a catch.  There’s always a catch.

Finally today, April 26th, I got the official offer.  The job starts Tuesday.  I leave Friday to visit the spouse in Rochester, where he’s doing a lead in The Music Man, and I will fly from there to Columbus.   No news on whether I’ll still be able to do Ulla in Producers at Sacramento Music Circus.  My agent thinks it unlikely, but we’re waiting.  Always waiting.  Until then I’m scrambling to pack, get a hair cut, eat up the fridge, et cetera, et cetera.

Whew.  Sometimes life is exceptionally strange.

I knew today wasn’t going to be my day when there was no soap in the shower.

My husband had warned me.  “We’re out of soap,” he said.

“I know,” I replied.  The soap at that point had the approximate density of an oak leaf.  Still, at 7:30 in the morning when I hauled my carcass into the shower, I learned (once wet) that my husband had meant that we were absolutely out of soap.  The leaf had disintegrated or vanished into damp air.

“This is not going to be your day.  You should go back to bed,” I told myself as I leaned out of the shower to fumble through our stash of hotel-room samples.  Locating a travel-sized shower gel with ginger bead exfoliant, I maneuvered back under the shower spray.  “You’re up,” my drill sergeant self said to my gentler, more intuitive self.  “You’re in the shower.  You’re going on this audition.”

My hippie self really needs to learn to stand up to my drill sergeant self.  Because at 8:50 when I approached Chelsea Studios, I knew that something was awry.  There weren’t nearly enough bleary-eyed, overdone auditionees traipsing through the lobby.  The telltale air of desperation was noticeably lacking.  I checked the studio schedule scotch-taped to the wall.  No mention of my audition.  I checked my planner.  I had gotten the location and the day right.  I jumped into a waiting elevator and headed upstairs to investigate.

“That audition was postponed indefinitely,” said the jaded desk attendant.  “Like, yesterday.  Sorry.”

“That’s all right,” I said, helping myself to the gumball machine full of free M&Ms.  (That’s why I love Chelsea Studios.)  I had another audition to attend.

When I got to Actor’s Equity, the line for the Hangar Theatre’s auditions snaked through the waiting area, folding twice, and extended down the hallway, past the bathrooms and studios B and C.

“Only the alternate list is available,” the unnaturally cheery audition monitor informed me.  I couldn’t wait around on the alternate list all day, so I wearily trudged home, arriving before my dear husband had even gotten out of bed.  It was not yet 10:00, and my whole morning had been a flop.

I haven’t gone on an equity cattle call throughout all of December or January.  Nor have I gone on an agent call.  My agents claim they haven’t forgotten about me.  “Things wax and wane,” they explain.  But ever since my favorite agent departed for motherhood, I’ve been remarkably un-busy.  Meanwhile, I’ve tried to settle into the 9 to 5 routine proffered by my internship at the Overlook Press.  While there I ask myself almost every minute, “Do you like this?  Could you do this full time?”  And the answer thus far is yes.  Especially after mornings like these.

But I’m also looking for a sign:  someone or something to tell me what to do.  I actively pray for a sign.  “Lord, should I continue to pursue an acting career or should I do something else?”  So far, I haven’t received a definitive, Moses-from-the-mountain-type sign.  Broadway has not called to book me.  I have not been struck, figuratively or literally, by a bolt of lightening.  (Thank God.)  All I get is soapless showers and the distinct impression that I just should’ve stayed in bed.

Whether I ever actually book Billy Elliot or not, I gained one piece of knowledge from the audition process.

“I don’t know where I’m buying my wedding shoes,” I explained to the girl waiting to audition with me.  She had asked.  “I want to feel comfortable, like I could dance all night.  I’m thinking of buying a pair of LaDucas.  I mean, I know they’re expensive, but…”

The girl looked me straight in the eye.  “Not LaDucas,” she said.  “World Tone.”

So last Wednesday I found myself ascending the narrow staircase of 230 7th Avenue.  While LaDuca may be the go-to place for the cast of Chicago, World Tone is the go-to for, say, Dancing With the Stars.   The hallway was papered with shots of ballroom dancers in extravagant poses.  Buying dance shoes for my wedding is an inspired move, I might add.  Rather than suffer through the night in a pair of Stuart Weitzmans that happen to come in white, I could withstand several hours of rigorous dancing in comfy characters with my choice of heel height.    And if I fall in love with a pair in black, I could order them in white.   And I fell in love within four seconds of walking through the door.

Unlike every other store on Earth, World Tone places its sale rack directly to the right of the entrance.   I immediately saw four pairs of shoes I had to have.  I could wear red shoes with silver spangles at my wedding, couldn’t I?  It’s my wedding, after all.  And they were on sale. I stood there, drooling, for approximately 30 seconds before the sales girl came over.  “Can I help you find something?”  she asked.  “It’s my wedding,” I gushed.  “I’m looking for a shoe that I can dance the night away in,” I furthered, dangling the preposition in a rare moment of Cinderella-like ecstasy.

“In white?”

“Um… not necessarily.”

“Okay.  Well, if you see a shoe you like, we can probably get it for you in white.  Even if we don’t have it in stock here, we can order it for you.  Would you like to put your bag down while you look around?”

“Yes, thank you.” I felt like Annie arriving at the Warbucks mansion for the first time.  “I’ll start with the windows.  Then the floors.  That way, if I drip…”

The problem was I loved so many shoes I didn’t quite know where to begin.  Eventually the sales girl, with Bloomingdales-like efficiency, brought out every pair of white shoes they had in my size, along with a couple of silver.  It took her two trips.  I was hopping from one foot to another, wishing I had brought a bridesmaid or, at the very least, a gay.

Fortunately, at a critical moment, a gay walked in.  I had found The Shoes, but had been deliberating for 30 minutes over whether I wanted a 2.5 or 3.5 inch heel.  (Three inches was unavailable, unfortunately.)  A modestly dressed 30-something male stepped into the doorway and gagged over the sale rack, just as I had.  The sales girl was on it.  “Can I help you?”

“Yes, you can,” he said, pulling a ratty pair of pumps out of his bag.  “I’ve been wearing these for ages.  Don’t look at them.  They’re awful.  I need a new pair, and I heard you sell size 11 and a half wide.”

“Do you have a heel preference?” the sales girl asked, without blinking an eye.

“No.”

She trotted off, presumably to pull every 11 and a half wide out of stock.  He ambled over to me.  “Those are fabulous.”

“I know.  They’re for my wedding.”  He gasped and clutched his invisible pearls.

“Love them.”

“Two and a half-inch or three and a half?  I can’t decide.”  I had one on each foot.

“Too bad you can’t wear a pair like this,” he said, pulling a bright purple,  Gaga-inspired stripper heel with a five-inch platform off the rack.

“I know!  Those are amazing.  But my fiance isn’t that much taller than me.”

“Yeah, that’s the one day you can’t tower over him, I guess.  I would say the three inch, though.”

I studied my foot for the umpteenth time.  “Are you performing anywhere?”  I asked.

“No, not really.  But I’m in a pageant coming up.”

“Really!  When?” I asked,  mentally mobilizing the book club.  “I’m there.”

“October 3rd.”

“Stop it!  That’s my wedding day!” Another gasp, another clutch of pearls.  “Well, good luck.  Sorry I can’t make it.”

“That’s okay, girl.  Your wedding’s going to be fabulous.”

I walked out of World Tone with the Shoes, two rhinestone anklets,  and  a smile on my face.  I ended up choosing the lower heel.  You don’t always have to take advice from a drag queen.  But I had it a feeling that regardless, my wedding day was going to be fabulous.

Rehearsals started exactly a week ago, and here is a list of things I can do on stilts:  time step, shimmy, chassee, grapevine, pivot step.  I have the music theatre basics DOWN.  I can also do several different types of walks: stroll through the park, jog in the park, “sneaky-sneaky,” and “dirty little gypsy.”  Most mornings at ten we have stilt class.  It lasts an hour and is conducted like a regular dance class.  We start with a warm-up created by our physical therapy team that makes sense in some places (hundreds, runner’s lunge) and not in others (push-ups, contractions).  Then Warren, the choreographer, shouts, “Suit up, people!  We’re goin’ in!”  and we all climb onto our high stools to strap ourselves into our stilts.

Warren and his assistant Parker then lead us through a series of steps.  We warm up in the center, then move across the floor, finishing with a combination, just like a jazz class would.   First we march.  When Warren shouts out, “Exit!”  And we all have to face the exit while marching.  Then he’ll go, “Dog it!”  And we all have to march to face the back wall, which is covered with pictures of various breeds of dog.  Next, “Window,” then back to the front with “Mirror.”  This goes on for about five minutes, with Warren switching up the directions in a sort of stilted Simon Says:  “Mirror!  Window!  Dog it!  Mirror!  Dog it!  Exit!”  We invariably futz up, but no one’s fallen.  Yet.

Then we walk across the floor.  “Sneaky, sneaky,” or, as it’s sometimes called, “Cheeky, cheeky,” requires one to walk on the tips of one’s stilts as if one were a cat burglar or, in this case, a dog thief.  It’s a strange feeling to get used to.  Lately, we’ve been doing cheeky, cheeky backwards, while Warren cries out encouragement, using the various nicknames he’s quick to assign to us  (I do not have one yet.)  “Good, Bob!  Steal the puppies!  Steal the puppies!”  Bob’s name is Garreth.  Dirty little gypsy requires us to lunge forward in the stilt and sort of drag the other leg behind us.  Warren has Parker demonstrate as he calls out in his London accent:  “Stroll, stroll, stroll, stroll, dirty little gypsy, dirty little gypsy, dirty little gypsy, dirty little gypsy.”  Today we had a new challenge: quick-stepping with a mannequin on wheels.

I do love Warren and Parker and their other assistant, Sarah, who is a tiny, beautiful English dancer.  I realized today I sort of wish I were her (she).  And I like myself, so that’s saying something.   As for Warren, I love his turn of phrase, plus I love that he refers to the kids in the cast as devil children.  (Even though, truth be told, they’re not.)  He gives us notes like (imagine this in an English accent), “Use your arms to help hurl your carcass off the floor,” or to the kids once, “When Park or Sarah hits you on the back of the head, get up and dance.”  The choreography is balletic (my favorite), mixed with shameless music theatreness, such as the aforementioned grapevine and jazz hands (or in this case, jazz paws).

We’ve been spending most of our time dancing or learning music.  Our composer/lyricist is a former member of the band Styx, which I’m not familiar with, although everyone assures me I am.  He attends every music rehearsal and loves to jump in and tweak things: he’ll change a lyric here, a note there, add a rest or another bar, and sometimes coach us on how to sound more “pop.”  It’s kind of neat creating a show.  He isn’t intimidating at all, despite the fact that he wears the requisite sunglasses all the time (although I think there could be a medical reason), and he’s actually quite funny in a musician sort of way.  Today he walked into rehearsal with five metrosexuals in office wear.  “These gentlemen are from the CIA,” he announced.  “They’ve received reports that we’re torturing singers.”  We all laughed, then he said, “No, seriously, they’re from the Thanksgiving parade.  They’re just here to hear some of the music.”

Now, I’m the swing.  Before my mom or anyone freaks out, I probably wouldn’t be on TV even if we were chosen for the parade, unless I were to start rolling marbles down stairs.  Incidentally, we’re scheduled to be in Texas at that point, so I don’t know how that would work out.  But still, it was very exciting.  We sang “Twilight Barking.”  Now doesn’t that sound like a lovely song?  There’s no woofing, by the way.  The dogs speak English with various British dialects throughout the play.

Speaking of dialects, and even though it’s completely off topic, don’t miss out on Spike Lee’s movie of Passing Strange.  If you missed it on Broadway, as I did, run to the IFC if you’re in New York and check it out.  If you’re not in New York, move.  Or at least visit.  It’s the final performance of Passing Strange captured on film and it was simply amazing: one of the best things, if not the best thing, I’ve seen all year.  Also really loved In the Loop, a British farcical satire about the UK/US decision to invade an unnamed Middle Eastern country.  Hilarious, but absolutely rated R.  Profanity is an art form for these people, and you will guffaw.

One final recommendation:  couldn’t put down Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger.  Andre will attest that it held me captive for the last couple of days with a Harry Potter-like tenacity.  I kept it in my purse, even though it’s a tome, and at restaurants when Andre went to the bathroom, he’d come back to find me reading just one more page… call your library.  Hook it up.

Stay tuned for more updates.

I regret that due to an insane schedule, I am only able to write about events some weeks or days after they happen.  It has been my intent for some time to write a review of the funny, under appreciated 9 to 5.

I had been encouraged to see 9 to 5 by some theatre-crowd friends whose opinions I respected, so I eagerly accepted my first invitation to go.  Reviews, I understood, had been lukewarm, which in the theatre world usually means everyone loved it but the Times or vice versa.  I didn’t read the Times review until just now (for inspiration).  Having seen the show, I can only assume that Ben Brantley meant to write a piece entitled, “A Stodgy Old Fart Goes to Broadway.”

The curmudgeonly review opens by comparing 9 to 5 to Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist work, Exit the King. This is like comparing Ace Ventura: Pet Detective to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Both movies feature Jim Carrey, just as both shows are on Broadway.  But other than that, he is comparing apples to oranges, to put it mildly.  They are just completely different shows.  Brantley’s point is that in such an intellectually exciting season, 9 to 5 feels like tourist-pandering  froth.  And to that end, he’s right.  Movie musicals appeal to the ignorant tourist as well as to the risk-averse investor.  But that doesn’t mean the show’s not good.

Scenerychewer, for one, is glad to see a good, old-fashioned book musical starring adult actors in undeniably grown-up situations.  I am happy to hear a score that sounds like it was written for the stage with songs that, believe it or not, advance the plot and reveal new aspects of the characters.  I am happy to see three gifted actresses strut their stuff on a stage filled with unleashed character actors.  In short, the show is a stitch.  Go see it.  You’ll have a ball.

Scenerychewer is not proposing the show is without its flaws.  The only particularly memorable song is the title number, although there are plenty of memorable moments within the songs.  Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, which I liked so much in In the Heights, is a trifle too busy for my taste.  It seemed to be compensating for a slight lack of direction.  But the cast is first-rate, particularly Alison Janney and the hilarious Kathy Fitzgerald.  If you love good acting, a good laugh, and most of all, if you love musical theatre, go see this show.  You won’t be disappointed.

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/theater/reviews/01nine.html