Uma and Lea on Broadway

My matinee the next day was The Parisian Woman, a new play starring Uma Thurman. It has enormous relevance since it’s set in present-day Washington, DC and written by Beau Willimon, who created House of Cards. What was curious was that Miss Thurman chose a strange mid-Atlantic accent – kinda a cross between Madonna and Mrs. Howell! And not being a natural stage animal, she was prone to wild gesticulation of her limitless limbs, which looked even odder in unflattering clothing. The show is saved by Blair Brown, who is incapable of giving a bad performance. She’s so good, in fact, she magnifies the deficits of the play’s star. Then again, reports were that Uma’s name alone was selling tickets. So, what do I know?

That night, I saw Once On This Island, which, like The Parisian Woman, is a one-act, 90-minute show – my favorite kind! The production is as magical and enchanting as the story, and the cast (including our own Alex Newell) is uniformly superb. That said, I’m still trying to figure out what Lea Salonga was doing there. Not that she isn’t good – she sounds as bright and brilliant as ever. But she has one number and spends most of the show walking up and down the stairs as if she were just crowned Miss Filipina! If you like the musical, you’ll love this revival. If you don’t know it, you’ll still love it. And if you love Lea Salonga, you’ll long for a helicopter.

In a rarity, I then went to my third show of the day! 54 Below hosted an all-star concert presentation of the Lauren Bacall vehicle, Woman of the Year. Also beside the point – did anyone think to invite Raquel Welch? Not that she was missed alongside such luminaries as Joyce DeWitt, Eve Plumb, and Lypsinka battling for honors next to such bona fide Broadway babes as Julia Murney, Luba Mason, and Christine Pedi. There were also some great men, including Robert Cuccioli, Brad Oscar, and my new discovery, the dashing and sexy Kevin Zak. The show’s 11 o’clock number, “The Grass Is Always Greener”, was expertly handled by Dee Hoty and the indomitable Anita Gillette. Of all the shows I saw, this was the best of the bunch.

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