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Ben pHilipp

Mary, Mary

May 8, 2019

Retro Productions which has staged both old and new plays has turned its attention to this unjustly neglected comedy from 1961 which has not had a New York revival that made it into the record books.  Shay Gines’ production proves that it is still witty and literate and has a great many quotable one-liners. A window on the 1960’s, the problem for younger people will be the number of household names that aren’t well-known anymore like Orville Prescott, Elizabeth Arden, Jack Warner, Louella Parsons, Gerold Frank, Jackie Coogan and David Susskind, pioneers who should not have been forgotten. The show program conveniently has a Pop Culture Glossary in the back which explains them all. The problem for older people is that the pacing is a bit slow where it should be played at farce tempo which would make  the repartee all that much more scintillating. [more]

Secret Identity

January 29, 2019

At the center of "Secret Identity" is Keith Weiss who plays JT. The proverbially baby-faced Mr. Weiss is physically, emotionally and vocally entrancing. With his rumbling low voice and expressive imposing physical presence, Weiss truly takes on the character exhibiting the pathos of the outsider. He casts off sullenness to deliver some amusing Robin Williams-style antic riffs while doing impersonations of teachers. His contorted manner when observing Trey disrobe speaks volumes about how JT feels. Weiss is onstage virtually the entire time and his performance is a chief measure of the play’s success. [more]

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little

May 10, 2017

Retro Productions’  50th anniversary revival of Paul Zindel’s "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" put the spotlight on an almost forgotten play that is worthy of revival. Shay Gines’ production with a game cast of seven is absorbing and compelling theater with characters that are bigger than life. Paul Zindel’s semi-autobiographical play comes alive in their hands. There may be more theatrical treasures to be mined from his collected plays. [more]