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"Accent on Youth" at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
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"Accent on Youth" at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights


The New Yorker Hotel
The New Yorker Hotel is a historical,
first-class, landmark hotel.

481 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(866) 800-3088

Manhattan Theatre Club
Presents
Accent on Youth
(MTC Show Website)
By Samson Raphaelson

Lynn Meadow, Artistic Director
Barry Grove, Exec. Producer

Directed by Daniel Sullivan

At the
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

With:
Lisa Banes, Rosie Benton, Curt Bouril, David Furr,
Mary Catherine Garrison, Byron Jennings,
Charles Kimbrough, David Hyde Pierce, John Wernke

Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Original Music and Sound Design: Obediah Eaves
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Production Stage Manager: Roy Harris
General Manager: Florie Seery
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Assoc. Artistic Director: Mandy Greenfield
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla
Director of Development: Jill Turner Lloyd
Production Manager: Kurt Gardner
Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 2, 2009


Accent on Youth, more or less a 1930’s parlor play, does actually take place in an oak-filled parlor-office, with David Hyde Pierce as the fifty-something playwright in an affair with his nubile secretary; so, what else is new? Not much, but I admit I enjoyed this production thoroughly, in spite of its being fairly forgetful and dramatically detached. This was the perfect mental get-away, witty and sly, intellectually thin, a breezy antidote to an endless recession, and, better, a visual feast. In fact, I made a note to mention John Lee Beatty’s rich décor, reminiscent of elegant 30’s films, but with honeyed oak instead of black-white hues, displayed on the Samuel J. Friedman’s stage. The actors seemed secondary, as delightful distractions, caught up in their play about a play. In fact, tonight’s audience was cheerfully engaged.

Mr. Pierce, as a playwright, Stephen Gaye, has written “Old Love”, about a December-May relationship, and his friends attend its first reading. These friends, Lisa Banes, as Miss Darling, and Byron Jennings, as Frank Galloway, spark some droll repartee. Soon Genevieve Lang (Rosie Benton), Gaye’s former lover, arrives to become the play’s leading lady, but persuades Gaye to fly off to Finland for a much needed fling. Before this romantic tryst takes flight, a second romantic tryst is introduced. Gaye’s secretary, Linda Brown (Mary Catherine Garrison), businesslike and proper, suddenly pours out her heart in teary torment, and the December-May theme of Gaye’s play takes on vivid meaning. Gaye speaks self-flatteringly, alluding to his irresistible charm and elegance, with generous humor and just a hint of poignancy. Let the games begin. Adding to the fun, is the most charismatic butler-assistant, Flogdell (Charles Kimbrough), who can wrestle the men and woo young ladies, as well.

Daniel Furr (Dickie Reynolds) is Gaye’s competition for Linda, now Gaye’s leading lady, as Reynolds and Ms. Brown become the stars of Gaye’s surprisingly successful play, and their flirtation ensues offstage, for the third romantic tryst. The poignancy returns, as Gaye shifts to a more mature and selfless mind set, amidst the comings and goings of some minor additional characters. Ms. Garrison was more persuasive as Linda Brown in Act I, before fame and fortune found her. Rosie Benton and Lisa Banes captured their characters’ womanly affect in occasional appearances, while David Furr played the smitten Ivy League type with upper crust ardor. But, I was most immersed in David Hyde Pierce, Frank Jennings, and Charles Kimbrough’s performances, with all three actors maximizing the biting banter and refined merriment that Samson Raphaelson conceived three-quarters of a century ago. The themes of fear of aging, romantic solace, and fickle fate could not be more timeless and fascinating. Jane Greenwood’s simple but elegant costumes were as richly conceived as Mr. Beatty’s solidly paneled set, while Brian MacDevitt’s lighting added luster and sparkle to it all. This is one play I’d like to see again in a more intimate setting, to add some depth and dimension to these charming characters. But, for now, this was a swell night at the theatre.









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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net