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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents Richard Greenberg's "The Assembled Parties" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents Richard Greenberg's "The Assembled Parties" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

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Manhattan Theatre Club
The Assembled Parties
(The Assembled Parties Website)

By Richard Greenberg

Lynn Meadow, Artistic Director
Barry Grove, Exec. Producer

Directed by Lynne Meadow

At the
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street

Jessica Hecht, Judith Light, Jeremy Shamos
Mark Blum, Lauren Blumenfeld, Alex Dreier,
Jake Silbermann, Jonathan Walker

Scenic Design: Santo Loquasto
Costume Design: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Original Music & Sound Design: Obadiah Eaves
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Nancy Piccione
Production Stage Manager: Barclay Stiff
General Manager: Florie Seery
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla
Director of Development: Lynne Randall
Production Manager: Joshua Helman
Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 20, 2013

Attending a performance of Richard Greenberg’s new play, The Assembled Parties reminded me of the parlor plays that used to be staged at The Mount, by Wharton and James. I felt elevated, enlightened, and erudite. In a fourteen-room Central Park West apartment in 1980 (Act I), Julie Bascov (Jessica Hecht) entertains her upscale Jewish family for Christmas dinner. Ms. Hecht radiates and resonates with cognac-coated witticisms and effusive praise for all her guests. Husband Ben (Jonathan Walker), a successful businessman, co-hosts the celebration. His sister Faye (Judith Light) and her husband Mort (Mark Blum) join the elegant table with their daughter Shelley (Lauren Blumenfeld). Timmy Bascov (Alex Dreier), Julie and Ben’s younger son, is upstairs, while Scotty (Jake Silbermann), Julie and Ben’s older son, makes his college friend Jeff (Jeremy Shamos) comfortable for the Holiday. Jeff, in an early Act I telephone conversation with his offstage mother, highlights the elegance of the Bascov abode, as he gushes about its pristine ambiance, expansive rooms, and warm, generous relationships. Jeff reeks with jealousy and yearning. His offstage mother, of a less moneyed Jewish social circle than the Bascovs (a few Yiddish expressions tell it all), would appear to be rejected and lonely.

But, just beneath the mahogany veneers of Santo Loquasto’s magnificent and magnetic set lies the dust of familial secrets, soon to be followed by illness, tragedy, and financial loss. In Act II, the year 2000, Christmas day again, Mr. Silbermann is the grown and rebellious Tim, and Jeff is a hugely successful lawyer, whose financial generosity tips the earlier scale of class and financial opportunity. Yet, Julie transcends tribulations with an apparent knack for repression. She represses and camouflages any messiness of stress and loss, with powerful assistance from her strongest ally, Faye, whose own financial fate has drastically improved with the help of a critical piece of family jewelry and a good stock broker. More sub-plots abound, with various family illnesses, Tim’s unfolding lifestyle, and the circumstances of Julie’s checkbook and home. But Mr. Greenberg has seamlessly tied all loose ends with Julie’s never-failing optimism and Faye’s never-failing witticism. In fact, Ms. Light has become one of the stage’s finest interpreters of the beleaguered wife, widow, aunt, et al., who retains an indestructible sense of humor about it all. When Ms. Light begins to speak, the audience leans forward. Ms. Hecht is in her finest role in recent years, as the diva of the family, a diva with nineteenth century, Chekhovian flair. Mr. Shamos, as well, holds the stage with his morphing persona, from wannabe Bascov son to wannabe Bascov lover. To Jeff, Julie is his ideal woman.

Mr. Blum has a pivotal scene with Mr. Walker in Act I, with impressive force, and Mr. Silbermann makes the shift between two brothers with impressive nuance. Ms. Blumenfeld, as the uncomfortable and shy Shelley, who struggles to assimilate with the fashionable, genteel Bascovs, is endearing. Lynne Meadow has directed this sophisticated new play with polish and finesse, to make every scene scintillating and irresistible. Santo Loquasto’s plush apartment, with several of the fourteen rooms on display in Act I and the time-tinged living room in Act II, is a masterpiece. Jane Greenwood designed intriguing, retro dresses and attire for Julie that, in this story, were designed by Julie’s mother, plus fascinating, less refined outfits for Faye and Shelley. Peter Kaczorowski’s lighting and Obadiah Eaves’ sound and music warmly enhanced each scene. Tom Watson’s hair and wig design transformed Ms. Light to the matronly Faye, who, in actuality, looks the opposite of Ms. Light, as seen at theatre ceremonies and receptions. Kudos to Manhattan Theatre Club and Richard Greenberg for this remarkable new play.

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