Sunday, April 19, 2009

review - No Way To Treat a Lady

No Way To Treat a Lady
book, music & lyrics by
Douglas J. Cohen
directed by West Hyler &
Shelley Butler
Colony Theatre
through May 17
No Way To Treat a Lady was a uniquely popular film in 1968, in that it was a dark thriller with comedic undertones. Its theatricality gave Rod Steiger an opportunity to show a great range of characterizations, and to George Segal, Lee Remick and Eileen Heckart wonderfully rich roles as real people forced to deal with a serial killer's demented delusions.
The musical is quite an ambitious project for one Douglas J. Cohen, who developped the book from William Goldman's novel... and the music and lyrics as well. Previously produced twice off-Broadway, this production at the Colony marks Lady's west coast premiere, and it is a divinely fresh and pleasant entertainment.
What is most engaging about Lady on stage is watching its two protagonists play out their parallel lives, which are so radically different yet so unbelievably similar. Both mama's boys and workaholics, but failures at their individual endeavors, Morris (Kevin Symons) and Kit (Jack Noseworthy) have a difficult time living up to any expectations, and the conflict becomes one great big duel to see who will win. An interesting feature is that Morris, a cop assigned to the serial murder case, not only is pressured by his Jewish mother Flora (Heather Lee) and his new girlfriend Sarah (Erica Piccininni), but also by the murderer who slyly keeps in touch with Morris by phone. In fact, Kit not only announces his victims to Morris, but also takes credit for Morris' promotion on the case. But will Morris be able to find Kit before Sarah becomes his ultimate victim?
The cast, with skillful dual direction from Hyler and Butler, is a delight. Heather Lee plays both mothers, and three of Kit's victims effortlessly. A dandy character actress, Lee is funny with all the women and even manages to keep the Yiddish, Irish and Italian accents in place. Move over, Meryl Streep! Symons makes the perfect mensch with Morris, flustered and frustrated in his professional and personal life. Noseworthy, such a wonderful singer, has the opportunity of a lifetime to show versatility with Kit Gill, and he is more than up to the challenge. Piccininni is sweet and intelligent as Sarah and does some lovely singing with 2 of the show's best numbers: "So Far, So Good" and "One of the Beautiful People".
Of course, good champions over evil, and Kit Gill is the loser - no surprise, especially for a musical, but the whole show as a theatrical sparring match is such a treat, and, it actually does offer a surprise: the music is good and so easy on the ears.
5 out of 5 stars


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