Roberta on the Arts
Women’s Project Theater Presents "Jackie" at New York City Center Stage II
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

Women’s Project Theater Presents "Jackie" at New York City Center Stage II

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Edible Arrangements
Floral Beauty & Incredible Taste
Fresh Fruit Baskets, Boxed Gifts
Made to Order and Deliver

1756 Broadway (56th-57th Sts)
New York, NY. 10019
(Kosher Certified)
Mon-Sat: 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sun: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Ask for Osman or Nelly.

Call for 15% Off, Mention!

Women’s Project Theater
Julie Crosby and Lisa Fane, Directors


By Elfriede Jelinek
Translated by Gitta Honegger

Starring: Tina Benko
Directed by Tea Alagic

New York City Center Stage II
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues

Scenic Design: Marsha Ginsberg
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: Brian H. Scott
Sound Design: Jane Shaw
Dramaturg: Megan E. Carter
Casting: Alaine Alldaffer, CSA
Lisa Donadio
Wig Design: Tom Watson
Production Stage Manager: Jess Johnston
Press Rep: The Bruce Cohen Group, Ltd.
Production Manager: Aduro Productions
Assoc. Producer: Aktina Stathaki

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 4, 2013

Elfriede Jelinek’s Jackie, about Mrs. Kennedy Onassis, our iconic and tragic First Lady, has been revived in advance of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination (November 22, 2013). Women’s Project Theater is presenting Tina Benko in a one-woman show, directed by Tea Alagic. Marsha Ginsberg’s set is a leaf-strewn empty cavern of a cement swimming pool, looking like fall, or looking like hell, maybe in November. Ms. Benko is Jackie Kennedy, whose attire, designed by Susan Hilferty, is a flesh-colored flared dress, with a bow-tie belt, beige pumps, pink patent purse, and a too-brown wig. Ms. Kennedy had dark hair and features, and Ms. Benko does not strive for her likeness. The swimming pool has a ladder to a ledge, where Jackie can push a button and get blond Barbie Dolls in pink dresses, by the bunch. Some fall to the leaves, and others are held and mauled by Jackie, as she personifies them as Marilyn Monroe, singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President”, with whiplash wit. Larger dolls are duct taped mummified figures, named Jack, Bobby, and Ari, for Jackie’s two deceased husbands and her one deceased brother-in-law, plus two tiny duct taped figures, representing Jackie’s two deceased premature and stillborn babies.

Ms. Benko seems to be in Jackie Kennedy’s late, cancer-stricken days, occasionally donning a long scarf on her head, mentally arranging the most memorable moments in her life, as if she might slip away without feeling them again. We hear sharp gunshots, thanks to Jane Shaw’s tightly timed sound design, and, intermittently, cool 60’s pop smoothies, danceable and mood-enhancing. In fact, the entire one-act play is filled with ironic twists and shifting temperaments. Ms. Benko keeps her monologue classy and other-worldly, even as she swallows little white speed enhancers. She talks about Jack’s wandering libido, blaming his transmitted bacteria for her dead babies. Then, in a swoop, more than twice or thrice, she focuses on the scene in Dallas, and what became of Jack, in gruesome detail, as if reciting a memory piece. Bobby and Aristotle are mentioned little, but their closeness to Mrs. Kennedy is renowned. And, it’s that level of transparent and public knowledge of Jackie’s most intimate experiences that drives Ms. Jelinek’s play. The playwright sees Jackie as a princess, Marilyn too, with the manufactured doll, iconic women who assumed royal levels of attention and fame.

This is not a Jackie look-alike play, most of which have been exploitive and crude, but, rather, an internal study of the mind-play of an infamous woman, who absorbed enormous grief and demonstrated courage out of loyalty to her public, much like Diana and the Queen. Ms. Benko has some vaudevillian moments, with witty remarks, timed for laughs, and her running up and down the iron ladder was a feat in itself. As she drags the duct taped mummified figures, embodying the weight of death, she wins pathos from the audience. Tea Alagic has directed to keep Ms. Benko compelling and interesting. I look forward to future presentations by Women’s Project Theater.

Tina Benko in Jackie
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

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