December 5, 2010

Women On the Verge

You know you're in Patti LuPone territory when you find instructions like these inside your Playbill. I told Pinky I half-wanted someone to leave their phone on just to set Ms. LuPone loose on that person.
I loved Pedro Almodovar's film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and looked forward to the musical version. Unfortunately, even Brian Stokes Mitchell couldn't save the show for me. The staging, frenetic. The book, funny enough. But I found it mystifying that I was nodding off during the musical numbers.
Quick run-down of the wacky plot: Pepa (usually played by Sherie Rene Scott, who was out the day we saw it. De'Adre Azizza was our heroine.) was just dumped by Ivan (Stokes Mitchell) who is married to Lucia (LuPone) and has a son Carlos (Justin Guarini) who is engaged to Marisa (Nikka Graff Lanzarone). Pepa's friend Candela (Laura Benanti) suspects her lover of being a terrorist and is trying to get a hold of her. Danny Burstein plays the taxi driver who is witness to all the chaos. And essential to the story, gazpacho. Trust me: the film was hilarious, a true screwball comedy. The female characters bring new meaning to that oldie "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
I can't really tell why the musical adaptation didn't work for me. The absurdity, the ridiculousness/earnestness of the characters, the feminist vibe of the movie just didn't translate well onto the stage version. Can something not be farcical enough? The performances are pretty strong, especially Ms. Benanti's madcap Candela.
Anyway, go see for yourselves and let us know what you think.


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