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" Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" at the Belasco Theatre
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" Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" at the Belasco Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Salon Ziba

200 West 57th Street
New York, NY
Open seven days a week
Ask for Alonso

Lincoln Center Theater
Under the direction of
Andre Bishop and Bernard Gersten
in assoc. with Bob Boyett

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
(Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Website)

Book By Jeffrey Lane
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
(Based on the Film by Pedro Almodóvar)

de’Adre Aziza, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein,
Justin Guarini, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Patti Lupone,
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Beth Pell, Sherie Rene Scott

And an ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Belasco Theatre
111 West 44th Street

Directed by Bartlett Sher
Choreography by Christopher Gattelli
Sets: Michael Yeargan
Costumes: Catherine Zuber
Lighting: Brian MacDevitt
Sound: Scott Lehrer
Projections: Sven Ortel
Aerial Design: The Sky Box
Special Effects: Gregory Meeh
Wigs and Hair: Charles LaPointe
Makeup: Dick Page
Orchestrations: Simon Hale
Additional orchestrations: Jim Abbott and David Yazbek
Music Direction: Jim Abbott
Casting: Telsey + Co.
Production Stage Manager: Rolt Smith
Press: Philip Rinaldi
Musical Theater Assoc. Producer: Ira Weitzman
General Manager: Adam Siegel
Marketing: Linda Mason Ross
Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 17, 2010 Matinee

Today’s matinee of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown left me exactly at the verge, with fragmented dialogue, sets that appeared and disappeared like a broken dream, disjointed plot lines, blaring cab horns, and screaming, sexy babes. I’ve never been to Madrid, would love to go, but I’d have to re-visit the film, on which this play’s based, to inspire that object of wanderlust. Pedro Almodóvar is a more engaging storyteller than the Jeffrey Lane-David Yazbek-Bartlett Sher team of this fizzy stage concoction. This show was like a bad cocktail, looks great, gets you in the mood, and leaves you with a bad taste and dizzy migraine. The only character that drew me in was Danny Burstein as the jovial taxi-driver, who brings his cab onstage, backed by projections of passing traffic and dizzying u-turns. When his cab was center stage, nothing else shared the spotlight. That detail could be the kernel of a great new show.

Sherie Rene Scott, perfect as Pepa, was jilted by Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell), a lover with wandering hormones. Patti LuPone is Lucia, Ivan’s abandoned wife, who spent decades in a mental hospital, in trauma from Ivan’s loose lust (unbelievable by today’s marital recoveries). Lucia, still in denial, longs to punish her husband on the run, and then there’s Candela (Laura Benanti), who finds guns where her bed was still warm from Malik (Luis Salgado), every woman’s nightmare date. Lucia and Ivan’s son, Carlos (Justin Guarini), is still growing up, but he’s helped along the way by his own leggy lover, Marisa (Nikka Graff Lanzarone). Characters come and go, fall off balconies, fall asleep, get drunk, spike the juice, trick detectives, break the phone, and burn the bed, not in that order, but with frenzied theatrical fireworks and sets that stay just long enough to identify them. Like faces in a crowd, furniture, patios, doorways, and streets impress the imagination like a moving kaleidoscope. Only the glassy design is fused with song dance routines, like “Lie To Me”, “The Microphone’, “Tangled”, and “Invisible”. Yes, those are the names of some songs.

Maybe the production team could film this show in slow-fast motion for a media event at MOMA, as the gestalt was a fascinating memory. Visually this show’s a feast, but not for two acts. It would be a great 20 minute media film, with the high points whizzing by to, maybe, a Madrid traffic soundtrack. Michael Yeargan’s sets and Catherine Zuber’s costumes were dazzling and outlandish. Thanks to Gregory Meeh’s special effects, the burning bed didn’t catch Sherie Rene Scott’s hair, and thanks to Sven Ortel’s projections, the taxi scenes were the high point of the afternoon. Christopher Gattelli’s choreography worked well, when it wasn’t swamped with stage clutter, but Bartlett Sher directed, I think, for an audience that wasn’t on the characters’ plentiful pills. I look forward to renting the Almodóvar film.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at