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Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in "Dead Accounts" at The Music Box
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Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in "Dead Accounts" at The Music Box

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Jeffrey Finn, John N. Hart, Jr.
et al.

Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes
Dead Accounts
(Dead Accounts Website)
By Theresa Rebeck

Judy Greer, Josh Hamilton
and Jayne Houdyshell

Directed by Jack O’Brien

The Music Box
239 West 45th Street
A Shubert Organization Theatre

Scenic Design: David Rockwell
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: David Weiner
Composition/Sound Design: Mark Bennett
Hair Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
Advertising & Marketing: Serino/Coyne
Technical Supervisor: Peter Fulbright/Tech Prod. Services, Inc.
Press Representatives: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Production Stage Manager: Rolt Smith
Assoc. Producers: Jamie Kaye-Phillips/Charles Stone
General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 6, 2012

The last time I saw Katie Holmes on Broadway (All My Sons), I found her quietly elegant and ingénue. Tonight, as Lorna, in Theresa Rebeck’s Dead Accounts, I found her inherent elegance still glowing beneath her Midwestern, middle America persona, drinking wine from a box and bonding with her brother and Mom. She seemed right at home. The Cincinnati brother is Jack, played by the ever dynamic Norbert Leo Butz, and their Mom is the ever vibrant Jayne Houdyshell, called Barbara. Also present in their cozy, knick-knack strewn kitchen is Phil (Josh Hamilton), Jack’s boyhood friend. Jenny (Judy Greer), Jack’s stunning, New York, almost ex-wife, makes an appearance in Manhattan black. Hovering over them all are the trees, seen through glass doors and windows, with their magnitude revealed later on, in an engrossing set by David Rockwell.

Jack has come home, still in New York CPA attire, with torment and trouble, related to his discovery and exploitation of “dead accounts”. The mystery lies not in his suitcase but rather right here at Barbara’s kitchen table. How Lorna, Barbara, and he will resolve or absorb his white collar crime and new found windfall will provide a magnitude of choices for this close, modest family. Issues of country comfort vs. city chicanery are soon bantered about at explosive levels. Mr. Butz emotes with verbal fireworks, shaking and twitching with dis-ease. Soon Ms. Holmes matches his mania, but the wine and a dozen pints of local ice cream calm the conflict. Another calming influence is Phil, who discovers Lorna anew. Jack’s father is an offstage character, upstairs, seriously ill with a kidney condition. Barbara dashes hither and fro, in and out her kitchen door. But, Ms. Houdyshell is a consistent, persuasive presence in every production, reviewed recently in Harrison, TX.

Jack O’Brien has directed to maximize trust in relationships, rather than maximize tension on dead accounts. David Weiner’s lighting is intrinsic to the outlying foliage that envelops this ensemble. Mark Bennett’s sound and composition added interludes of upbeat or downbeat forebodings. Ms. Rebeck has written a thoughtful, fairly loose play with more questions than answers. The Broadway setting was too expansive to appreciate the unfolding dialogue. Dead Accounts would play better on the small stage, even a theater in the round. The offstage father was an unnecessary inclusion, as was Jenny. In fact, Jenny kept dialing her lawyer, another offstage character on her cell, leading one to suspect an affair But that story twist fell flat. This play could be strengthened with additional plot development, an ensemble of four (even the five), and an intimate space. The design and technical crew were superb. The four lead characters deserve kudos for charisma.

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