The Thing about Men
2162 Broadway at 76th Street
Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music by Jimmy Roberts
Based on the Screenplay "Men" by Doris Dörrie
Directed by Mark Clements
Produced by Jonathan Pollard, Bernie Kukoff, Tony Converse, and James Hammerstein Productions
Press Representative: Richard Kornberg & Associates
Set Design: Richard Hoover
Costume Design: Gregory Gale
Lighting Design: Ken Billington
Sound Design: Jon Weston
Projection Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Casting: Cindi Rush Casting
Production Manager: Lankey & Limey Ltd.
Production Stage Manager: Joel Rosen
Orchestrations: Bruce Coughlin
Music Director: Lynne Shankel
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Musical Staging: Rob Ashford
General Management: Richards/Climan, Inc.
Associate Producers: Gregory Taft Gerard and Karen Jason
Starring: Marc Kudisch as Tom, Ron Bohmer as Sebastian, Carter Calvert (Understudy) as Lucy, Daniel Reichard as Man,
and Jennifer Simard as Woman.
Band: Conductor/Keyboards: Lynne Shankel;
Violin: Victoria Paterson; Cello/Percussion: Peter Sachon; Reeds: Christopher Miele; Music Coordinator: John Miller
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 17, 2004
What a lovely idea for the Promenade Theatre to present a play with a live chamber ensemble, that could reviewed on its own merit, much like perusing the art of the Metropolitan Museum with the chamber music atop the balcony. Here, it is not art, but theatre and high comedy, contrasted with poignant romance, that are set to cello, violin, percussion, clarinet, and piano, not electric, an actual piano. Such a unique effect. Another unique effect at The Thing About Men was the set, which contains moving and still film images, within an apparent brick wall, that provide the backdrop for City and Country – home, flat, office, woods – fish swimming in a bowl, whirring fans, sink and toothpaste, easels and brushes.
If you are looking for a hilarious play, fantastic voices, an adorable story, endearing characters, a modern day French farce, superb acting, brilliant directing, sets and lighting that never cease to amaze, then The Thing About Men is the show to catch, before it's too late. The only challenge at this production was the sound system, which forced the vocalizations to appear taught and tinny. However, the spoken passages were well heard, and the book, lyrics, vocal talent, campy scenes, and costumes were so thoroughly delightful, that the sound issues became less noticeable as the matinee proceeded.
Marc Kudisch as Tom, the philandering, suburban husband who takes a sabbatical from his corporate advertising job, when he discovers his wife's own adventure with infidelity and obsessively searches for her and her lover, in a valiant effort to win her back, is extremely well cast and just as charming and charismatic. Ron Bohmer, as Sebastian, the loafing downtown artist, who seeks a roommate to pay the rent and seduces the bored and lonely, suburban wife away from her starched linens to his filthy laundry and oil paints, is engaging and sexy, in long, brown hair and Village-type wardrobe. Carter Calvert, as Lucy, the stand-in for Leah Hocking, is the least strong of the main characters, but holds her own as the wife/lover, the woman torn between two men, even as the men become torn between loyalty to their own growing friendship and their lust for Lucy.
All three actors have vivacious voices, and Ms. Calvert sings Because with pathos and smoothness. Mr. Bohmer and Ms. Calvert sing Take Me Into You with bravura qualities, and Marc Kudisch sings Opportunity Knocking with effervescence and energy. Daniel Reichard and Jennifer Simard, as a variety of men and women – flaky neighbor, French Maitre d', ad agency supervisor – were absolutely outstanding, so infectiously funny, that I wanted this performance never to end. As it lasted over two hours, there were numerous songs and soliloquies, and the stage sets and lighting, along with the chamber ensemble, collaborated with the performers to keep the energy effusive and effortless, and to keep the audience well entertained. Kudos to Joe DiPietro, Jimmy Roberts, and Mark Clements for book, lyrics, music, and direction of this memorable matinee.