What News on the Rialto

Friday January 29, 10
by David Cithbert, "Steppin' Out" - WYES Channel 12

I almost never review something that a viewer can't see – such a show that's played only a few performances and closed. There are exceptions, however.

Last week, at the Marigny Theater, I saw a one-woman show, The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman," that is simply extraordinary and if there's any justice, it will return there or somewhere else, for a real run after Carnival.

Karen Shields gives a beautifully modulated performance: moving, poignant, terribly theatrical and funny as hell – as the 19th century actress Charlotte Cushman.

Cushman was, in her day, the most acclaimed actress "on two continents," as she says. Her repertoire included 190 roles – male as well as female – and her private life was a scandal to the jaybirds. She played Romeo to her younger sister's Juliet, had multiple, overlapping romantic female friendships and her story even has a dramatic turning point in New Orleans.

Playwright Carolyn Gage has written a superbly structured monologue, a showcase for a strong, dynamic actress and Ms. Shields fills the bill and then some. It has also been directed with great sensitivity and humor by Glenn Meche for the new Break the Mold Productions and that it does.

"Hey, Mr. Producers – I'm talking to you sirs" --Discriminating local theatergoers deserve the opportunity to see "The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman" and I hope to see it again at the Marigny Theater, Le Chat Noir, Muriel's Cabaret – ANY intimate performing space. Please?