Heidi (Shannon Gray)
L to R: Heather Moore, Britney Bunker, and Gab Maldonado
L to R: Jennifer Watkins, Britney Bunker, Heather Moore, and Gab Maldonado
Dec 08-Dec 17, 2000
Sterling performances highlight 'Heidi Chronicles'
- By Cheryl Thornburg, Sun News C-3 [Friday, Dec. 8, 2000]
After the first few scenes of "Heidi Chronicles," I was afraid it was going to turn into a man-bashing, feminist "comedy."
Thankfully I was wrong. The No Strings production is another gem in what is turning out to be a first-rate first season for Ceil and Peter Herman's new Black Box Theatre on the Downtown Mall.
Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer-winning play tells the story of Heidi, a young woman growing up in the Sixties, as doors are just beginning to open for women to choose careers other than wifedom and motherhood. She takes a different path from many of her friends, remains single and becomes an art historian.
The settings and music will take many Baby Boomers on a trip down Memory Lane. Heidi's friends may also seem familiar - her high school girl friends at a typical high school dance - Peter, a guy who becomes Heidi's close friend and Scoop, a classic "rebel" of the protest era.
Heidi goes through consciousness-raising groups, protests to bring awareness to women in art, and a complicated relationship with Scoop.
The key to the success of this production is fine acting by the lead actors. Shannon Gray creates a Heidi that is believable, likable, and at times vulnerable, as she journeys to find her place in a changing world.
B.J. Anderson delivers a solid performance as the complex Scoop, an arrogant but charming young man, who like many Baby Boomers, eventually casts off his radical youth for a more "establishment" future. The most amazing performance, however comes from Jason Godin as Peter, the intelligent, sensitive young man who becomes Heidi's lifelong friend. He'll make you laugh, and in the second act he may make you cry.
There are also some dynamite performances from supporting actors. Gail Wheeler makes the most of her gift for comedy as Jill, the ultimate care-taker in Heidi's consciousness-raising group.
Also making those group scenes memorable are Samantha Beres as Fran and Jennifer Watkins as Heidi's friend Susan.
One of the funniest scenes involves a talk show where the now successful trip of Peter, Heidi, and Scoop are guests. Hosting the show is an over-the-top effervescent April, played with skill and style by Las Cruces High School student Michelle Pulice.
Director Ceil Herman, being a contemporary of playwright Wendy Wasserstein, pays special attention to the music and setting the mood. Many of her actors are too young to actually remember the era, but they manage to recreate the atmosphere and attitudes.
Rounding out the cast are Britney Bunker, Steve Conn, Marron Lee, Gab Moldonado and Heather Moore.
There were some minor technical difficulties on opening night, with music and art slides getting mixed up, but technical director Peter Herman has fine-tuned the production.
The play contains a few "four-letter words," particularly in the first act, but the script is not riddled with foul language.
"The Heidi Chronicles" runs through Dec. 17. Performances are at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and Dec. 15 and 16. Performances are at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14 and on Sunday, Dec. 10. There will be a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17.
The admission price on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is $7, $6 for seniors (over age 65) and students. Thursdays are bargain nights with admission for all seats reduced to $5.
For more information or reservations for "The Heidi Chronicles," call the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223. reservations can also be made online at the No Strings Theatre Company web site www.zianet.com/nstcbbt.
No seating plan has been posted.