If you’ve never obsessed over a romantic crush, you’re probably lying. Deborah Zoe Laufer understands. Her 45-minute musical, Window Treatment fully captures the feeling of longing for someone you’ve only seen, but have never met.
Farah Alvin stars as a successful doctor who seems to have it all together–until it comes to pining for a neighbor in her apartment complex. The neighbor, we learn, is a short, balding fellow who would be dating “up” they ever were to match.
Window Treatment is part of a trio of one act, solo musicals called Inner Voices. Artistic director Paulette Haupt of Premieres has been producing this charming and poignant series every other year since 2008.
Daniel Green provides the music to Laufer’s tale which succintly captures every feeling of romantic attraction: lust, hope, worry, fear, jealousy, anger, betrayal, doubt, and insecurity. Alvin is a wonderful actor who takes audiences on a journey in which most will identify, Musically, the score is intentionally choppy but reflective of Alvin’s manic train of thought. Director Portia Krieger ensures that the precise amount of nueroses is executed without going off the rails.
The Costume, with words and music by Daniel Zaitchik, stars a remarkable young talent, Finn Douglas. Set on Halloween in 1954, it tells the story of boy caring for a wounded pigeon. With a mother suffering from depression and a father who was killed in the war, he is left with only the thoughts in his head: What should he wear for Halloween? Why does his mom stay alone in her bedroom for days on end? What is so important about an ordinary bird? On the surface, it’s difficult to imagine that the subject matter would captivate and yet there is so much heart here, making it impossible not to care. Noah Himmelstein directs this piece without being overly sentimental or maudlin. For an 11 year old, Douglas demonstrates an emotional quotient much higher than many adults, Patti Kilroy and Ludovica Burtone add an extra layer of beauty with violin accompaniment.
The topic of autism has become a popular theme in contemporary theatre but rarely has it been covered with as much care as it has in Jeff Blumenkrantz‘s Scaffolding. In educational terms, it refers to how children learn.
“Building Structures that support, structures that connect. Platforms that improve and protect,” sings Rebecca Luker who plays a harried single mother trying to raise a son with Asperberger’s–only that is not the politically correct phrase to use anymore, she informs us. It is now Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Scaffolding portrays a devoted mother doing her best to shield her son from the world and the consequences that arise from being overly protective.
Victoria Clark, a mother herself, obviously knows the challenges parenting can bring and guides Luker with gossamer hands. Luker, also a mother, brings an innate maternal instinct to the role.
Premieres’ Inner Voices is a rare gem among the crowded theatre scene. All three pieces force us to slow down, be more reflective, and provide us with a heavy dose of empathy in a world currently so deficient of it.
Inner Voices runs through November 17th at TBG Mainstage Theatre (312 West 36th Street NYC). For tickets and more information, visit http://premieresnyc.org/