|WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN|
SummaryWhile chaos unfolded in his fantastic 1988 film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, director Pedro Almodovar's firm directorial hand brought order and even an odd splendor to the mayhem. Sadly, that's not the case in Lincoln Center's misguided musical version. The choice pedigree of the cast and the creative team can't turn this trivial mess into a harmonious triumph.
Director Bartlett Sher, who steered such splendid Lincoln Center musicals as The Light in the Piazza and South Pacific, has actors flitting about the stage in a frenzy of activity, yet nothing in this laborious adaptation by Dirty Rotten Scoundrels authors Jeffrey Lane (book) and David Yazbek (music and lyrics) feels particularly urgent.
The usually brilliant Sherie Rene Scott stars as Pepa, one of the edgy femmes of the title. Freshly abandoned by her lover, Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell), she embarks on a tireless search to find the philanderer and win him back. Despite her heartache, Pepa leads a charmed life next to Ivan's former wife, Lucia (Patti LuPone), just out of a mental health facility after 20 years and suing him for desertion.
Laura Benati's delightful and clever Candela, Pepa's adorably clueless model friend, is the musical's bright spot. Fretting over a couple of passionate days she spent with a man she now realizes is a terrorist, she's on a desperate quest to get her attention in the hilarious patter song "Model Behavior."
There are other solid turns from the terrific wattage of talent on display, including Danny Burstein as a cab driver who's always cruising by when Pepa needs him and former American Idol contender Justin Guarini as Lucia and Ivan's son, Carlos. But the score is overwhelming unmemorable. Scott and LuPone are stuck with an interchangeable array of songs about heartbreak and disappointment. Audience members should be able to relate on their way out of the theater.
By Diane Snyder
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de'Adre Aziza, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein, Justin Guarini, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Beth Peil, Sherie Rene Scott
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