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"20th Century Blues" at Signature Theatre
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Lida Orzeck and Eva Price (Exec. Producer)
20th Century Blues

By Susan Miller
Directed by Emily Mann

Signature Theatre
(Signature Theatre Website)
James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director
Erika Mallin, Exec. Director
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 244-PLAY (7529)

Beth Dixon, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Polly Draper
Kathryn Grody, Ellen Parker, Charles Socarides

Scenic and Projection Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Jennifer von Mayrhauser
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Sound Design: Darron L. West
Production Stage Manager: Samantha Flint
Production Manager: Mary Duffe
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
Press Representative: Sam Rudy Media Relations
Advertising: DR Advertising
Marketing: Leanne Schanzer Promotions Inc.
Company Manager: John E. Gendron
General Management: Maximum Entertainment

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 25, 2017 Matinee

Susan Miller’s new play, 20th Century Blues, superbly directed by Emily Mann, explores the lives of four well-seasoned women, best friends for 40 years, as they meet for a yearly reunion in Danny’s (Polly Draper) New York apartment. The main feature of these bonding get-togethers is Danny’s professional photo shoots, which, naturally, reveal the facial and postural changes that time wreaks on all of us. Danny has been honored with a photography retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and she asks her friends to sign a release for their four-decade series of photos to be featured in her exhibition, as well as in screen shots for a TED Talk. Much discussion ensues about Danny’s financial benefits in their photographed personas, as well as the nature of known and covert nuances in each friend’s relationships with the others. Added to the mix are Danny’s adopted son, Simon (Charles Socarides), who arrives late in this two-act play, with Danny’s mother, Bess (Beth Dixon), a virtual charmer in a wheelchair.

In addition to Danny are: Sil (Ellen Parker), a real estate agent who’s toying with the idea of plastic surgery, and she arrives with facial and neck markers as proof, as she needs her image polished to make sales; Mac (Franchelle Stewart Dorn), a journalist, who has closeted secrets about one of her friends; and Gabby (Kathryn Grody), a veterinarian who has cancer behind her and practices life alone, prematurely, should it happen that her husband dies. Beowulf Boritt has designed an understated apartment on this intimate stage, with professional photography paraphernalia. My seat was so close, I felt like company. He also designed the photo projections, which are enlarged in the final scene, at Danny’s TED talk. Jennifer Von Mayrhauser chose appropriate costumes for each of the characters’ lifestyles. Jeff Croiter’s lighting crisply spotlighted the hand-held and decorative photographs, as well as those in the slide lecture. Darron L. West’s sound was well conceived for nuanced conversational comments. Although there were no earthshattering revelations about the characters’ past adventures or personas, nor elucidations about stalling the ravages of time, Susan Miller’s new play was a delightful afternoon at Signature Center.

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