Sunday, May 11, 2003

A..My Name Will Always Be Alice (Jewish Community Center)

Pleasant “A...MY NAME...” at Halle/JCC

Watching ‘A...MY NAME WILL ALWAYS BE ALICE’ at the JCC’s Halle Theatre is like eating Chinese food. It’s filling while you are experiencing it, but shortly afterwards you are left with an empty feeling. The strength of the production is also its weakness. It’s a nice, safe, mildly messaged review type musical. It doesn’t go out on a limb and take strong stands, it will offend no one, most of the musical numbers are pleasant, but none stands out. You smile, clap, and then leave the theatre.

Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd, the play’s creators, seem to have assumed the mission of teaching the viewers what it’s like to be a woman. Unfortunately, most of the pieces aren’t edgy enough to do that. The closest are “Friends” which takes a short journey from two teenagers daily talking on the phone to their still daily talking on the phone as they traverse into old-age and “Nonbridaled Passion” about a woman coming to the reality of an unfulfilled life.

The cast, consisting of Tiffany Gates, Paula Kline-Messner, Maryann Nagel, Tina D. Stump and Casandra Vincent are all excellent. They sing, act and dance well. Highlights include a very funny sequence of poetry readings by the very talented Nagel; a plaintiff “I Sure Like the Boys” sung by Tiffany Gates; Nagel and Kline Messner’s “Welcome to Kindergarten, Mrs. Johnson” and “Friends;” Gates’ “Nonbridaled Passion;” and Vincent and Nagel’s “Hot Lunch.”

Director Douglas Farren, Choreographer Eric van Baars, Musical Director Marc Baker, Costumer Alison Hernan and Scenic Designer Tony Kovacic have all done their things efficiently. All of the technical and aesthetic aspects work.

Capsule judgement: ‘A...MY NAME WILL ALWAYS BE ALICE” is a pleasant evening of theatre. If you go to experience “entertainment-light” you’ll appreciate the production.