Roberta on the Arts
The Pearl Theatre Company Presents "Vanity Fair", Adapted by Kate Hamill
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

The Pearl Theatre Company Presents "Vanity Fair", Adapted by Kate Hamill

- Backstage with the Playwrights

498 9th Ave (37th-38th)
New York, NY 10018
(646) 918-6542
Order Delivery Online!
Lunch and Dinner
Mon-Sat 11AM to 11PM
For All Day 20% Discount!

Mediterranean Couscous!
Rotisserie Chicken!
Veggie / Turkey Burgers!
Sweet Potato Fries!
Mixed Berry Tart!

The Pearl Theatre Company
Hal Brooks, Artistic Director
Jess Burkle, Managing Director


Vanity Fair

By Kate Hamill
adapted from the novel by William Thackeray
Directed by Eric Tucker

The Pearl Theatre
555 West 42nd Street
NY, NY 10036

Zachary Fine, Kate Hamill, Brad Heberlee
Tom O’Keefe, Joey Parsons, Ryann Quinn, Debargo Sanyal

Scenic Design: Sandra Goldmark
Costume Design: Valérie Thérèse Bart
Lighting Design: Seth Reiser
Sound Design: Matthew Fischer
Original Music: Carmel Dean
Director of Production: Gary Levinson
Production Dramaturg: Kate Farrington
Production Stage Manager: Katherine Whitney
Press: Blake Zidell & Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 23, 2017

The Pearl’s latest production, Kate Hamill’s adaptation of William Makepeace Thackery’s novel, Vanity Fair, was dissatisfying, distasteful, disjointed. All in all, many in tonight’s audience kept checking their watches, with some leaving empty seats after intermission. With dusty, faded minimal sets, bearded men wearing women’s frilly hats and flouncy skirts, not adjusting to higher pitched voices, and so on, the plot was mostly confusing and enigmatic. Moreover, vulgar bathroom jokes and effects, as well as gross gestures were rampant throughout. It seemed that The Pearl had already begun summer vacation, as the play was better suited for a drunken fraternity romp than a 42nd Street Off-Broadway theater. The only pleasant element in the production was the use of tiny lights, like those in a fairground, strung about rear stage. Yet, the giant red curtain that swung open to reveal silly scenarios in sequential tedium was also dusty and worn. I wondered continually what ever happened to the high level, lovely Pearl productions like Major Barbara, The Philanderer, The Bald Soprano, and Uncle Vanya. I loved these and many other of The Pearl’s past presentations. Today’s was shockingly disappointing.

Eric Tucker, Director of Ms. Hamill’s play, is Artistic Director of Bedlam, a theatrical troupe. His over-the-top treatment of Ms. Hamill’s comedic twists was unfortunate. I would have preferred a straightforward adaptation of Thackery’s witty novel with enough characters onstage, or at least actors who are gender specific to the role or pretending to be, so the spoken dialogue wasn’t so annoying. Basically, Becky Sharp, an orphan born to a stage family (Ms. Hamill), and her good friend, Amelia Sedley, born to society and wealth (Joey Parsons), graduate from a private boarding school and engage in social climbing, with Becky the wily, conniving one and Amelia the altruistic, romantic one. Wars involving Napoleon are casually inserted, and Becky and Amelia’s fortunes fall through their husbands’ loss of finances and an occasional rich lover, here or there, or so it seemed. Each has a son, on or off stage, and each has the psychic intention to survive.

Becky’s husband, Rawdon Crawley (Tom O’Keefe), gambles with decks of cards, so she finds Lord Steyne (Zachary Fine) for some encounters in “the oldest profession”. Husbands come and go, die in battle or in broken heart, and Amelia’s brother, Jos Sedley (Brad Heberlee), rises to the occasion of putting yet another ring on Becky’s finger. Mr. Fine triples as Stage Manager, addressing the audience and donning womanly props as Miss Matilda Crawley. Mr. Heberlee has more than four additional identities, including Sir Pitt Crawley, Mr. Osborne, and Miss Jemima. Mr. O’Keefe likewise has more than two additional identities, including Mr. Sedley and General Tufto. Ryan Quinn has more than three, including William Dobbin, Miss Pinkerton, and Rose Crawley. Debargo Sanyal, one of several under-showcased actors, has more than four identities, including George Osborne, “Lesser” Pitt Crawley, Miss Briggs, and Lady Bareacres. Ms. Hamill and Ms. Parsons enjoy their solo roles.

I hope The Pearl Theatre Company will stage, in the future, high quality dramatic adaptations, similar to those lauded above, all enthralling and classy. Kudos to those past plays. I should mention another fond memory, of The Pearl’s elegant production of A Taste of Honey. To quote Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Where have all the flowers gone?”

Brad Heberlee, Joey Parsons, Tom O'Keefe, Kate Hamill
in The Pearl Theater Company's Production of "Vanity Fair"
Courtesy of Russ Rowland

Brad Heberlee, Kate Hamill, Ryan Quinn, Joey Parsons
in The Pearl Theater Company's Production of "Vanity Fair"
Courtesy of Russ Rowland

Tom O'Keefe, Brad Heberlee, Zachary Fine, Kate Hamill
Joey Parsons, Ryan Quinn, Debargo Sanyal
in The Pearl Theater Company's Production of "Vanity Fair"
Courtesy of Russ Rowland

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