Reviewed by Patrick Heffernan
When I have the chance to see live theater, I always try to take it. I was thrilled to receive an email from Trixie offering me the opportunity to review a show at the last minute this weekend. Without knowing anything about the show, the theater, or the cast, I made my way from Chatham to Copake to catch “The Lady and the Clarinet”.
Directed by Stephen Sanborn, this production is the latest offering from The Two of Us Productions and is running at the Copake Grange Theater through February 26th. The original Broadway production played in 1983 and featured Stockard Channing.
In this production, the five-person acting ensemble was led by Constance Lopez, who plays the title character, the exacerbated Luba. Lopez is joined onstage by Stephen Sanborn, who plays “the clarinet”, a musician hired by Luba for the evening’s entertainment while she awaits a dinner guest. Sanborn (also the show’s director), occupies a prime seat in the corner of the stage, providing commentary and conversation through his dulcet clarinet tones.
The other three actors play Ruba’s trio of “love” interests. Each one appears as a lover in a flashback from a different stage of Ruba’s life while she awaits the aforementioned guest. Eamon Martin plays the sheepish teenage office boy, Paul, with endearing affability and innocence. Bill Solley is Jack, the animated and amped-up TV executive whose life is a recipe for burnout. Lastly, John Leinung portrays the friendly George, a simple-mannered, level-headed, and practical character.
All of the actors are well-suited to their roles. Most impressive is Lopez’s portrayal of Luba, which spans the various stages of a woman’s life. We watch as Lopez skillfully shifts her embodiment from being a curious, spunky, sex-crazed 16-year-old to an increasingly tortured woman who becomes more and more desperate and unfulfilled as the show progresses. Lopez has a laudable amount of lines and is onstage for the entire show. It’s no surprise that she’s up to the task, as she is clearly a seasoned stage veteran.
The whole evening plays out on Michael Virtuoso’s smart set of a cozy NYC apartment. Lighting and sound effects are used to transition us through flashbacks.
“The Lady and the Clarinet” is a great show, worth attending, and makes for a thought-provoking evening out on the town. I certainly got what I came for – a few laughs, a few raised eyebrows, and a few touching moments, but most of all, great live theater!