Monday, March 02, 2009

More Good Press!

As reported in:

Local theater livens up with  a ‘Leading Lady’

Pictured from left: Gillian Doyle, Robert Youngs, James Jaeger, Carla Valentine, Kathleen Taylor, Tracy Ahern and Michael Tatlock

Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:54 PM PST

Other than the assassination, the play was quite humorous.

By Mary Scott, Peninsula News

With the observation of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday past us, how timely it is to premiere a comedy about his death. Yes. I said comedy. And it’s a good one.


The Neighborhood Playhouse opened the West Coast premiere of Charles Busch’s new comedy “Our Leading Lady.” Busch is the brain behind “Psycho Beach Party.” The comedy is less about Lincoln’s assassination or the Civil War (both serve as a backdrop) and more about the outrageous goings-on behind the scenes of the acting troupe that was on stage performing “Our American Cousin” the night Lincoln was assassinated.

Actress Gillian Doyle returns to the South Bay to take on the role of the queen diva, a femme trailblazer in mid-19th century theater, Laura Keene. The real Keene, not only a popular British actress at the time but also a reputed theater manager, was leading the Ford Theatre’s cast of “Our American Cousin.” The president was not the only one assassinated that night. Keene’s career never recovered.

In Busch’s fanciful version, Keene is trying to take over the theater. Her plans are to have Mr. Ford hand over the management of his theater to her. Afterward, she will oust the resident company and replace them with New York actors. But she must keep this a secret — something hard to do in the theater! In the meantime, she must deal the assorted personalities in the cast all the while maintaining her ego.

When Laura learns that the president will attend the final performance, she concludes his presence will benefit her plan. When he cancels, she shames him into coming.

“Our Leading Lady” is not your run-of-mill situation comedy; it is reminiscent of the great classic Greek comedy where tragedy is still comedy if it ends on a high note. Besides some poignant dramatic moments, “Our Leading Lady” is full of humor, trysts, backstabbings — goes well with a shooting — egos, divas, all that you’d expect from a troupe of actors high on whiskey and themselves.

The playhouse cast of nine is made up of hardened stage veterans. Doyle, already mentioned, is brilliant, poised. I saw her several years ago in a Long Beach production of “My Boy Jack” as (Mrs. Kipling). Loved her performance then, love her performance now.

The graceful Doyle is paired with a spitfire, Kathleen Taylor, as Verbena de Chamblay (say that with a loud Southern accent!). Miss de Chamblay, the wife of Gavin de Chamblay, a closet homosexual, is the Southern belle and sympathizer of the Ford The-a-tre. An exhausting character, Taylor holds up quite well to her counterpart and is by far my favorite performance of the show.

“Our Leading Lady” is better suited for the community’s adult theatergoers, not that there’s anything too randy about the show. But given its historical content and subtle and some not-so-subtle adult humor, the younger set may not appreciate it. So leave them home.

Joining Doyle and Taylor in the cast are: Tracy Ahern as Clementine Smith; Rita Hull as Maude Bentley; James Jaeger as W.J. Ferguson; Michael Prohaska as Major Hopwood; Michael Tatlock as Gavin de Chamblay; Carla Valentine as Madame Wu-Chan; and Robert Youngs as Harry Hawk. Brady Schwind directs.

Performances of “Our Leading Lady” are: Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 27 at 8 p.m., Feb. 28 at 2 and 8 p.m., March 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m., March 6 and 7 at 8 p.m., and March 8 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Neighborhood Playhouse is located at 415 Paseo del Mar in Palos Verdes Estates. Reserved tickets cost $22 to $34 and are available by calling (310) 378-9353 or online at



Autumn's Mom said...

I have a surprise for YOU.....

Anonymous said...

Tell, tell, what's the surprise???! I know Starshine will bursting to know!

Starshine said...

Oh, AM...a little birdie told me the news, and IT MADE MY DAY!!!

Can't wait to see you on Saturday!!!


C said...

That's awesome, Starshine!!! XO

Saucy said...

I can only imagine how much you deserve the great review but oh, how I wish I could see the production in person. Have a really nice time with your peeps at your farewell!

Molly said...

I wanted to comment on something that was in google reader this morning but NOT on your site any longer-so then I tried to email you, but you don't have an email link anywhere (and wow don't I sound like a stalker).

So, I just wanted to say that in looking at these images you are fine and healthy. I think that many actors have a serious flawed view of body image and health.