News Ticker

Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical

Five wine-loving women get together every Wednesday night, and gossip about their lives, loves and problems.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Amanda Lea Lavergne, Jennifer Diamond, Debra Thaïs Evans, Dawn Cantwell and Shannen Hofheimer in a scene from “Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical” at The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center (Photo credit: Russ Rowland)

When it comes to coffee klatches, wine seems to be a good substitute, or at least that is the case with the women in Winesday: The Wind Tasting Musical, with book and lyrics by Jenne Wason and music by Joseph Benoit. It is a show that could leave you tipsy at the end but generally satisfied with the experience. The songs are clever and well-sung by a solid group of five actors, and the book doesn’t rely on a straightforward plot but provides a series of entertaining vignettes that help define the characters’ lives with details about their ups and downs. Jamibeth Margolis’s direction effectively guides the cast to deliver funny, well-integrated performances in a constrained setting.

The show is divided into two acts divided into four parts called Pours. At each Pour, a sample of different wines is presented to the theatergoers. The first wine is offered at the entrance, where the audience is given a shot glass of wine, a program with a wine scorecard on the back, and a pencil.

The show opens with the ensemble dressed in semi-business attire, representing the law firm of Pinot and Noir, presenting “Standard Disclaimer,” a prologue song listed as Apératif in the program. It is a perfect sendup of a legal disclaimer, with clever lines, such as









Michael Valvo, Jennifer Diamond, Debra Thaïs Evans, Dawn Cantwell and Shannen Hofheimer in a scene from “Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical” at The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center (Photo credit: Russ Rowland)

Immediately following the opening number, the Wine Steward, played with solid comedic chops by Michael Valvo, addresses the audience by giving a spiel about the wine handed out at the door. He will be the guide to each of the wines presented to the audience during the show. The words of the spiel sound like a serious wine description, but the upbeat delivery gives it a light-hearted humorous edge.

The First Pour has the ensemble entering Winter’s (Debra Thaïs Evans) living room; she is a successful author whose writing guru is duping her. She is the host of the Wednesday book club made up of four of her friends. As each woman enters, Winter pours them a glass of wine, and they give a quick background of their character’s view of wine. Sammie (Jennifer Diamond) is a highly organized mom with an undefined but successful career; Jess (Dawn Cantwell) is a feisty, sharp-tongued, politically savvy activist who will join almost any protest; Vanessa (Shannen Hofheimer), a rich, non-judgmental, married lesbian who likes to travel; and Molly (Amanda Lea Lavergne) is single and obsessively and desperately looking for Mr. Perfect. It is an eclectic mix of characters with one main unifying feature: a love of the fruit of the vine.

All of these characters give solid insights into their characters through song. Molly sings “Perfect,” after the opening number. Her plea is for the perfect man to sweep her off her feet. She reprises this plea three times at different points in the show, with a change in the nature of the plea. Lavergne gives a solid portrayal of this somewhat emotionally confused woman desperately seeking love. When she finishes, the group chimes in about how worthless this guy really is. After a song about the virtues of wine, Winter discovers that her guru has drunk all the wine stored in her basement.

Each scene gives the audience more insight into the character’s feelings and the nature of their relationship to wine. The songs are clever and well-sung. Winter sings “Drinking About You” regarding her relationship with her guru. Sammie sings “Fifth Shepherd” about her disappointment that her son won’t be in the Christmas pageant at his school. Jess laments about the frustration she feels with some of the protest movement in “A Blissful Freaking Nap.” A song about Sammie, “Baggage,” is performed by Vanessa, Jess, and Winter, and the whole ensemble does a funny number about being young again called “Twenty-Something.” These and other songs keep the audience fully engaged in the characters’ antics.

Shannen Hofheimer, Debra Thaïs Evans, Amanda Lea Lavergne, Dawn Cantwell and Jennifer Diamond in a scene from “Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical” at The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center (Photo credit: Russ Rowland)

The one major issue is the venue; it needs to be larger for such a broadly conceived production. The one set tries to do too much, and for the primary dance number, a tap routine, it was next to impossible to appreciate the routine since there was barely room for the dancers to move effectively. Although Kimberly S. O’Loughlin’s sound design is balanced, the sound reproduction is seriously constrained by the limitations of speakers, which center the sound rather than letting it move with the actors. The effect is as if one were listening to a recording.

Lighting is problematic, again a function of the venue. Kathryn Eader does the best she can with the constraints of the lighting fixtures, but it is not effective in supporting the actions of the ensemble. There were times when actors are singing next to the spot that is supposed to be directly on them. Molly Goldberg’s costume design helped to clearly define the characters’ personalities.

Alec Bart’s music direction of a combo with him on piano, Rick Snell on guitar and Britton Matthews on drums, coupled with Joseph Benoit’s arrangements deliver an enjoyable musical experience.

Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical (through July 25, 2024)

Nine Ounce Productions

The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center, 210 West 50 Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call: (212) 921-7862 or visit

Running time: two hours including one intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

About Scotty Bennett (86 Articles)
Scotty Bennett is a retired businessman who has worn many hats in his life, the latest of which is theater critic. For the last twelve years he has been a theater critic and is currently the treasurer of the American Theatre Critics Association and a member of the International Association of Theatre Critics. He has been in and around the entertainment business for most of his life. He has been an actor, director, and stage hand. He has done lighting, sound design, and set building. He was a radio disk jockey and, while in college ran a television studio and he even knows how to run a 35mm arc lamp projector.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.