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"Norma Doesmen", with Tommy Femia, at the Abingdon Theatre
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"Norma Doesmen", with Tommy Femia, at the Abingdon Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Norma Doesmen
A Comedy with Music in Two Acts

Written and Directed by
Stephen Stahl
Produced by Lyons Productions LLC

Starring Tommy Femia

Also Starring:
Bryan R. Caine, Ken Shepard, Christina Giordano

At the
Abingdon Theatre Company
(Abingdon Website)
312 West 36th Street
NY, NY
212.868.2055

Production Stage Management: Tracy Coulson
Music Direction: Bill Jolly
Set Design: James Lyons
Lighting Design: Ryan O’Gara
Sound Design: Charles Jarboe
Choreography: Jill Kalfin
Costume Design: Saul H. Parson
Previous Production: Bridge Theatre Co.
Press: Cromarty & Co.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 2010


In a spoof on Norma Desmond, lead character in Billy Wilder’s 1950 film, Sunset Boulevard, originally played by Gloria Swanson, Tommy Femia, cabaret star and female impersonator, plays Norma here in a small theatre at Abingdon, thankfully for them not one of their own productions. This was an agonizing night at the theatre, with vulgarity run wild, to an extreme that would be over the top at a downtown bar. Sexual innuendos are the mainstay of the all too long monologues and dialogue. Femia as Norma, decked out in Saul Parson’s grotesque outfits, a quasi Cruella de Vil, sputters and sings ad nauseam, screaming soliloquies and songs, at once prey and predator, as her whim wishes. There are lewd gestures, overstuffed body parts, and occasional character collisions. When guns appear, it’s a relief.

Bryan R. Caine, the real apparent victim, is the kept man of the house, Joe Dillis, and Ken Shepard is an onstage cross-dresser, Max, a singer and heavyweight, who dusts, cries, and services his hostess. Christina Giordano fills out the cast as Bryan’s sleepy girlfriend, Betty Shaveher, YES, who’s about as funny as a patient in an emergency room. Which is where Stephen Stahl’s play belongs. I kept amusing myself, by looking at the dark, stained glass windows, the antiques strewn about, the colorful Persian rug, all apparently from Set Director James Lyons’ New Hope antique shop, advertised on the back of the program. I would have preferred an antique talk to fill the time. Or almost anything, for that matter. Some of the lame musical parodies were scored by “Clean Up Woman” (Jean Knight, 1988), “The Shoop Shoop Song, It’s in His Kiss” (Rudy Clark, 1964), and “Ballin’ the Jack” (Jim Burns and Chris Smith, 1949). Instead of heading out to see this show, you can buy the Wilder film online and see it forever. And Gloria Swanson won’t be shrieking, “Me, Me, Me!”



Tommy Femia as Norma
Courtesy of Milton Perry




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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net