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If it is the Harbor Lights Theater Company’s intention to have Manhattan and Brooklyn audiences cross the waters to view Broadway caliber performances on Staten Island, then “Marry Me a Little,” running now through April 17th at Snug Harbor with songs by Stephen Sondheim, is definite movement in that direction.
Tamara Jenkins and Jay Montgomery are “Woman” and “Man” in “apartments 2E and 3E on a Saturday night, early fall, in Brooklyn,” and they are the embodiment of lonely singles everywhere whose fantasies of intimacy are sometimes the closest people get to the real thing.
The fact that Jenkins and Montgomery are husband and wife in real life adds a compelling dimension to the musical revue without intermission that sets songs culled from Sondheim’s better-known musicals to a plot about hoped-for relationships between two people.
Tamara Jenkins, who’s also the artistic director of Harbor Lights, moves lithely and sings with control and passion in her portrayal of “Woman’s” emotional journey from isolation through sensuality, love, sadness and despair at the prospect of missed chances in romance. Her resume impresses with her prior credits in the First National Companies of “Chicago,” “ Les Miserables” and “Cats” as well as Richard Chamberlain’s revival of “My Fair Lady.” Her portrayal is virtuoso in her technical delivery of song and dance. She has the “je ne sais quoi” of the leading lady who has given great performances before great audiences.
It speaks well of the possibilities for future performances by this new theater company based at Snug Harbor.
Jay Montgomery plays “Man” with strength and humor and his vocals are just as strong as his female counterpart, although the acoustics of the hall supported his vocal range a tad more than Jenkins. Montgomery, who made his Broadway debut as Whizzer opposite Mandy Patinkin, is intensely likeable in his kind and gentile yet high-spirited portrayal.
While Jenkins’ plight lies in her fragility, he is safer than she from tragic aloneness; somehow you think he’ll get by on his winning smile and “aw shucks” demeanor.
Mark Robinson’s direction on a somewhat shallow stage (the place was originally a prayer chapel for retired sailors) was effective in the technically intricate sharing of space by people who are really supposed to be in two different places. Andrew Smithson’s musical direction was balanced, integrated and true to the Sondheim gestalt. Beth Gittleman’s inspired choreography hints of Bob Fosse—no accident as she spent a decade working with his very own protégé, Chet Walker.
Robert Shoquist’s set design of the drab interior of a tenement studio apartment more than satisfied the need for atmospheric tones of loneliness and estrangement. The scene design of common kitchen cabinets, stout, haggard chairs and table, with sleeping alcove would rival Edward Hopper’s bleak images of human isolation in urban modernism.
The show runs through April 17th, Friday night through Sunday matinee at Veteran’s Memorial Hall, 1000 Richmond Terrace, with “The Music Man” July 8-17. Phone 866 811-4111 for tickets or visit www.theharborlightstheatercompany.org for more information. By the way, the Company plans a summer academy for Broadway hopefuls this summer, also described on their website
"Win Win" Works Big Time for Me
a film review
by W J O'Reilly
The film is "Win Win" and down and out lawyer Mike Flaherty played by Paul Giamatti also doubles as a high school wrestling coach. He must have been doing someting right from a karmic pov as he crosses paths with a star athlete who breathes life into his pathetic, winless team, and also starts Flaherty and all his friends and family moving upwards in their lives.(read the rest at the above link)
W J explores "Living with Inspiration" with noted author and speaker Darrell Bennett.
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W J assesses "The State of American Mental Health" with noted psychiatrist Dr. Raj Juneja
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