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All of Me

A lively rom-com of rich boy meets poor girl but with the new wrinkle that both use a text-to-speech Augmentative and Alternative Communication device to speak.

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Madison Ferris and Danny J. Gomez in a scene from Laura Winters’ “All of Me” at the Pershing Square Signature Center (Photo credit: Monique Carboni)

Laura Winters’ All of Me is a lively rom-com of rich boy meets poor girl much on the lines of 1930’s film comedies. However, the new wrinkle here is that Lucy is disabled using a motorized scooter and a text-to-speech Augmentative and Alternative Communication device to speak, while Alfonso uses a motorized wheelchair and also uses an AAC device to speak as well. Both are independent people though Lucy needs a great deal of help while Alfonso’s wealth gives him staff to take care of his needs. They would seem a perfect fit for each other except that their mothers don’t think so.

Ashley Brooke Monroe’s production is spirited and animated. What she cannot overcome in the smart and nimble dialogue is the delay in the response time using AAC devices so that there is an unavoidable pause between the responses in the repartee. Another problem is that though the main characters are played engagingly by Madison Ferris and Danny J. Gomez, the rest of Lucy’s dysfunctional family seems clichéd and familiar.

Madison Ferris and Kyra Sedgwick in a scene from Laura Winters’ “All of Me” at the Pershing Square Signature Center (Photo credit: Monique Carboni)

Lucy, once an aspiring jazz singer, has developed a degenerative neurological disease which surfaced in high school so that she had to give up her dreams. She lives with her alcoholic mother Connie who has a bad back, her slightly older sister Jackie and Jackie’s seemingly wastrel boyfriend Moose, all of whom resent her and her needs. Both Connie and Jackie work as manicurists which does not pay all the necessary bills.

After an outpatient appointment at the hospital, Lucy meets Alfonso, who has just moved from Manhattan to take a job at the Schenectady County Public Health Service doing science and modeling. He has been paralyzed as a baby but with his parents’ wealth and resources, has gone on to completing his master’s degree. Lucy and Alfonso hit it off right away, but Elena, his wealthy lawyer mother, does not think that Lucy is good enough for him, as Connie’s limited view of her daughter’s abilities is keeping her from having any ambitions. When Jackie announces that she is getting married, Lucy comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme to solve her current money problems which goes horribly wrong.

Madison Ferris and Brian Furey Morabito in a scene from Laura Winters’ “All of Me” at the Pershing Square Signature Center (Photo credit: Monique Carboni)

As Lucy, Ferris who made history as the first wheelchair user to play a leading role on Broadway in Sam Gold’s production of The Glass Menagerie is feisty and dry-witted as the 20 year old who has put her dreams on hold. Gomez as the appealing Alfonso is the perfect foil, able to toss off a witticism with the best of them. The other roles seem either underwritten or stereotyped. Kyra Sedgwick as Lucy’s mother Connie is unpleasant and self-pitying as a complainer who only thinks of herself. As Lucy’s older sister Jackie, Lily Mae Harrington falls into all the stereotypes of the jealous and resentful family member who thinks someone else gets all the attention. In the underwritten role of Moose, Brian Furey Morabito is unable to fill in the gaps. As Alfonso’s mother Elena, Florencia Lozano is both snobbish and condescending without showing any redeeming characteristics.

The scenic design by Brett Banakis and Edward T. Morris is suitable once it is onstage but takes a great deal of time to set up each of the many scenes. On the other hand, the multiple costumes by Sarah LeFeber help to define the characters. The lighting by Reza Behjat helps create the atmosphere of the various places the characters meet, from Lucy and Alfonso’s homes to Jackie’s wedding to a park picnic table. Matt Otto’s sound design includes the title song and others that Lucy and Jackie want to sing.

Danny J. Gomez and Florencia Lozano in a scene from Laura Winters’ “All of Me” at the Pershing Square Signature Center (Photo credit: Monique Carboni)

For all its flaws, All of Me is an engrossing play with its novel milieu handling these kinds of disabilities. Madison Ferris and Danny J. Gomez play gutsy characters who have learned how to cope with their limitations. The many ups and downs of their stories keep the play moving along and the play has a satisfying denouement that is built into its rom-com formula.

All of Me (through June 16, 2024)

The New Group

The Pershing Square Signature Center

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, 480 W. 42nd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 917-935-4242 or visit http://www.thenewgroup.org

Running time: two hours and ten minutes including one intermission

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About Victor Gluck, Editor-in-Chief (995 Articles)
Victor Gluck was a drama critic and arts journalist with Back Stage from 1980 – 2006. He started reviewing for TheaterScene.net in 2006, where he was also Associate Editor from 2011-2013, and has been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. He is a voting member of The Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays have been performed at the Quaigh Theatre, Ryan Repertory Company, St. Clements Church, Nuyorican Poets Café and The Gene Frankel Playwrights/Directors Lab.

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