Have you ever gone on a blind date? Was it a disaster? ‘Becky Sharp’ now having its NJ premiere at the Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown is a sharp-witted comedy about a blind date that has major life changing results.
The play is from Pulitzer Prize finalist Gina Gionfriddo. Ms. Gionfriddo, also a Obie Award-winner, has written extensively for stage and television, including Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Cold Case and House of Cards. However, her twisted plot of romantic relationships between five very dysfunctional individuals is closer to the more sophisticated pairings in television sit-coms (think Friends, Seinfeld, etc.)
The play concerns two couples… first…a newly married couple, Suzanna (Alycia M. Kunkle) and Andrew (Aaron Matteson); the other couple, the blind daters, are Max (Terence MacSweeney) and Becky (Suzanne Kimball). The fifth participant in this edge-of-your seat modern comedy of middle-class (bad) manners is Suzanna’s recently widowed mother Susan (Catherine Rust).
Now, the plot is a bit complicated containing numerous twists. In the first act we learn that Susan’s late husband has left her in a financial mess. Max, who is her adopted son, is a successful money manager trying to secure Susan’s financial future. We also learn that Suzanne and Max are very close having been raised as practically brother and sister. Suzanna on a ski trip meets and marries Andrew. He is sweet, attentive, and a major ‘good samaritan’, happiest when saving lame ducks.
The play really begins when Suzanna sets her ‘brother’ Max up on a blind date with her husband’s mysterious co-worker, Becky Shaw. Becky Shaw is a friendless soul working as an office temp desperate to snare a wealthy husband. In the interest of not revealing too much of the plot we will omit the reasons for her depression. The date is a disaster… Max takes an instant dislike to Becky and their night is disrupted by a mugging. Max dismisses the mugging, but Becky is traumatized by the event. To Becky’s emotional rescue arrives Andrew. Ah, the plot thickens…what we can say is that as a result of the ‘blind date’ every one’s life is changed in a major way.
We fore go any additional plot reveals because Becky Shaw is an intriguing, thought-provoking, beautifully presented play with an excellent cast deserving of your participation.
The director, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, a veteran of the Broadway scene, received Tony Nominations for best director, as well as, best choreographer for Broadway’s “Swing!” among other impressive credits. She has assembled a highly talented cast of professional actors from New York City and New Jersey, three of whom are making their debuts on the CSC stage.
Those making their debuts are: Terence MacSweeny perfect as the emotionally confused Max, Suzanna’s adopted brother. Aaron Matteson the loving, overly kind, yes, pious Andrew, Suzanna’s husband. And, Suzanne Kimball excellent in the title role of the emotionally bruised Becky Shaw. Alycia M. Kunkle as Suzanna is superb, a former CSC intern, featured in CSC productions, Ladies Man and A Christmas Carol. She is a unique talent…deserving of her own standing ovation. The last member of the cast is Catherine Rust as Susan, Suzanna’s mother. Sitnik theatre regulars know her as the General Manager of the CSC. She nicely demonstrates her acting talent by so convincingly portraying a much older woman.
Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s creative team has also impressed. They include: Dustin Cross who earns kudos for the spot-on costumes, particularly Ms. Rust suits. Jordan Janota’s very effective sets, Ed Matthews lighting, and Danielle Constance who makes it ‘all go’ as the stage manager.
Now, in its second weekend, Becky Shaw continues its run through March 6 in the Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center. Performances this week are Wednesday, February 24 at 2 pm; Thursday, February 25 at 7:30 pm; Friday, February 26 at 8 pm; Saturday, February 27 at 8 pm and Sunday, February 28 at 2 pm.
Centenary Stage Company is also offering a buffet matinee for the Wednesday, February 24 2 pm performance. All performances are located in the Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Center; 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.
Tickets are $25.00 for adults on Friday and all matinee performances. Saturday evening performances are $27.50 for adults. Thursday evening performances are “Date Night” with $25.00 for all seats and a 2 for 1 rush ticket special when purchased in person at the CSC box office two hours prior to the performance. Buffet/matinee is $42.50 per person with a minimum of 25 people. To reserve for the buffet/matinee contact the CSC box office directly.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit centenarystageco.org or call the CSC box office at (908) 979 – 0900. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5pm and 2 hours prior to every performance. The CSC box office is located in the Lackland Center; 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.
Photos by Bob Eberle/CSC