Corrections or additions?
These reviews by Simon Saltzman were prepared for the March 12,
2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All
New York Review: `Kimberly Akimbo
In "Kimberly Akimbo," 62-year-old Mary Louise
Burke plays the role of Kimberly Levaco, a 16-year-old who suffers
from Progeria. This is a disease that ages the body four times faster
than normal. An acclaimed interpreter of playwright David
world of delightfully dysfunctional characters ("Fuddy Mears,"
"Wonder of the World"), Burke, is now inspiringly cast as
an audacious and spirited teenager who has aged prematurely.
her obvious state of maturity, it is Burke’s ability to reside within
a teenager’s state of mind and body that makes her performance
I won’t give away how Akimbo becomes affixed to Kimberly’s name
in this touching but also loony play that deals not only with aging,
but with the need to live life to the fullest. While not as startling
as "Fuddy Meers," or as fantastical as "Wonder of the
World," "Kimberly Akimbo" continues to reveal this
flair for baring the deep pain and eccentric behavior of ordinary
However, it is the romantic needs of the precocious but wise Kimberly
and Jeff (John Gallagher), the nerdy teenage boy, a member of the
"Junior Wordsmiths of America," who becomes more
than a friend, that beguile us. It is for Kimberly’s skewed family
members to set in motion the circumstances that will prompt Kimberly
and Jeff to follow through on an outrageous robbery scheme.
This is engineered by Kimberly’s prodigal Aunt Debra (Ana Gasteyer),
a tough and transient ne’er-do-well with criminal intentions, who
invites herself back into the New Jersey home of her pregnant sister
Pattie (Jodie Markell). and Buddy (Jake Weber), her alcoholic
Markell is persuasive as the pathetic accident-prone Pattie, whose
desperate need to have a healthy baby is offset by her refusal to
see Kimberly as an object of love and affection.
Also effective is Weber as the ineffectual Buddy, whose concern for
Kimberly is most poignantly revealed when he warns Kimberly (who has
survived a heart attack) about having sex with Jeff. "What are
you worrying about," she asks him. "I went through menopause
four years ago." David Petrarca’s direction is as fluid and clean
as Robert Brill’s set design which spotlights a clock whose hands
are shown racing out of control. Jason Robert Brown’s incidental music
nicely underscores this emotionally rewarding, very funny play.
Rating: Three stars (You Won’t Feel Cheated).
— Simon Saltzman
Stage 1, 131 West 55 Street, New York. $60. Tickets 212-581-1212.
Runs to April 6.
At the Zipper Theater (located in what once was an old
zipper factory), the all-girl band "Betty" is zipping though
an inventive program of invigorating music and flashy memoirs in the
sing-it-all and tell-it-all musical "Betty Rules." The
armed with beer and free popcorn sits back comfortably in tiers of
cushy automobile seats as the trio, consisting of electric cellist
Amy Ziff, her sister guitarist Elizabeth Ziff, and bassist Alyson
Palmer, take the driver’s seat with assist from back-up guitar Tony
Salvatore and drummer Colin Brooks.
This entertaining show, written and driven by this ego and angst group
of cult fame, is a high-speed journey that follows the curves, spills,
and spins of their rise from abject obscurity to modest fame over
the 17 years they have been in the live music scene.
The band "Betty" has toured nationally and internationally
playing such venues as Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and the
Kennedy Center, among other venues. After listening to their
harmonic music and audacious lyrics (none of it, however, familiar
to these ears), I do wonder why they never made it to the top of the
charts. But their amusingly wicked stories, bolstered with personal
and provocative insights into what drives and discourages the
performer, are flavored by the obligatory influence of bad management,
the presence of mothers, and the rush of sex, drugs, and rock and
While Amy is easily seduced by the promises of promoters, and Lynn
seeks release in groupie therapy, Alyson finds lasting love and
with the group’s long-time guitarist Salvatore. It’s not all that
profound, but still this gritty mix of backstage confessions and a
risk-taking concert plays out like sparks of electrical graffiti.
Calling itself "the exception to the musical," "Betty
Rules" is, without a doubt, exceptional.
Rating: Three stars (You Won’t Feel Cheatetd).
$29.90 to $49.90. Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.