I think they already broke down! All that amazing talent crammed into one show and it’s a chaotic hodge-podge! Lincoln Center Theater’s musical adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s (www.almodovarlandia.com)1988 film, of the same name, can’t get out of its own way.
The book by Jeffrey Lane has many farcical moments. There are even some decent songs penned by David Yazbek (www.davidyazbek.com ). It’s just not enough to do justice to this star-studded cast. Sherie Rene Scott as Pepa, is a TV actor-singer who gets dumped via voice mail by her macho and charismatic lover, Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell) (www.brianstokes.com), who’s in the same biz; Ivan’s almost ex-wife Lucia (Patti Lupone) (www.pattilupone.net) recently released after 19 years in a psychiatric hospital is stalking him; there’s Ivan’s mild-mannered son Carlos (Justin Guarini, the American Idol runner-up) (www.justinguarini.com ) and his seemingly frigid fiancé, Marisa (Nikka Graff Lanzarone). Lest we forget there is Lucia’s tough feminist lawyer Pauline (de’Adre Aziza) (www.deadreaziza.com) who is Ivan’s latest bed partner; the Taxi Driver (Danny Burstein) (www.dannyburstein.net) appears at will whenever Pepa needs him and Pepa’s ditzy model friend Candela (Laura Benanti) (www.laurabenanti.com ), who is having an affair with a terrorist.
Of the above, Benanti is the showstopper, dashing here and there in a teeny weenie skirt and heels, sounding inane but wowing with “Model Behavior,” a tongue twister enchanter of a song. Lupone doesn’t leave a stone unturned as Lucia and has her winning moment with “Invisible.” Unfortunately, from the very get go, the opening “Madrid,” sung by Burstein, in an effort to engage the excitement of the City, isn’t supported by its lyrics.
Crammed into it all are projections (Sven Ortel) moving in and out at rapid speed, scrims, furniture coming and going, the taxi, a motorcycle, roller skaters, real fire, gazpacho laced with barbiturates and, to top it all off, the women get to hang mid-air via ropes singing “On The Verge.” It’s dizzying, distracting and disillusioning trying to keep pace with all the frenetic fantasies and near breakdowns. All the women in this show are being driven crazy by the men in their lives and, regrettably, so are the viewers.
Director Bartlett Sher has done the best he can do. Lighting is by Brian MacDevitt; Costumes by Catherine Zuber (love Lucia’s hats!); Sound by Scott Lehrer and Sets by Michael Yeargan.
“Women on the Verge…” is running at the newly renovated Belasco Theatre on West 44th Street, NYC.