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One show you missed, two great ones to catch

By Staff | Feb 19, 2009

One of the most beautiful one-woman shows I have ever seen had a one night performance and filled every one of the 1,400 seats at the Naples Philharmonic on Feb. 15th. It was the gifted Tovah Feldshuh playing Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony”, a totally professional and utterly satisfying night of theater.

The play, brilliantly written by William Gibson author of “The Miracle Worker”, the play about Helen Keller, traces Golda Mier’s life from a Russian immigrant, her life in the U.S as a school teacher, a wife, a mother and then on to becoming Israel’s fourth prime minister.

You would truly have had to be in The Phil to grasp the enormity, the range, the gifts of Feldshu as she made that journey. I laughed, I roared, and I cried as Golda wrestled with the issues of the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Egypt and Syria attacked with every intent to destroy Israel. Golda’s issue was whether or not to use the nuclear warheads in her planes. Her imitation of Henry Kissinger during those heart-breaking moments was a moment in theatrical history to remember.

The resounding standing ovation must have reached Naples Beach, because it went on and on and on. And every bravo deserved. I’m truly sad if you missed it. Congratulations to the Phil for bringing it to us!

“My First Time”

Now, one you can still catch is the ribald romp at Theatre Conspiracy of the play “My First Time”, written by Ken Davenport and that was one of the longest-running play to open off-Broadway in years.

Ok, the play is about sex. The whole conceit is quite remarkable. Some 40,000 people from around the globe left their stories on a web site set up to gather my first time stories. Now there is a danger here. It could be a one-joke kind of evening. Sex, sex. Instead, I found it very poignant, certainly witty, and always intelligent. No small accomplishment in this particular society, where sex is passed off as so many one-liner gags.

Taylor has pulled together a marvelous ensemble of four of the best actors in the area. Two of them, Rachel Endrizzi and Michael Dunsworth, were great in Taylor’s production “About Maine”. The whole cast nailed it, and Bill Taylor deserves a lot of credit for the entire production.

Played without intermission, the ninety minutes are filled with the four actors taking on at least twenty different people and their stories. They make them come alive, and you could hear the roars of laughter from the audience, but also some tender gasps of recognition, as well.

My First Time plays through Feb. 28th. Shows are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with one Saturday matinee, Feb. 21st at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22, and $10 for students and be purchased by calling Theatre Conspiracy’s box office, 936-3239.

“The Heidi Chronicles”

“The Heidi Chronicles” is second play you can still catch, and I urge you to run down to The Naples Players and try and get a seat. It’s going to be a sell out. Because it’s Wendy Wasserstein’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award that year for Best Play. The year, 1988.

You may have seen “The Heidi Chronicles”, but you will love it again, and I tell you it’s still so painfully topical, even though we’ve made some strides for Feminism.

Bee Cowan who plays Heidi is truly a star. She is no amateur and the rest of the cast, since it is Community Theater, ran sometimes breathlessly to keep up.

The production makes brilliant use of an overhead projector showing you so many faces and places in the struggle– Betty Friedan, Shirley Comstock, Bella Abzug, Woodstock, Haight-Ashbury, the Beatles. If you were old enough, you were there.

The Naples Players are a gift to all of us. The play, now 20-years-old, is well worth the ride down. Heidi regrets at the end, that she never burned a bra.

I argue that you will regret it if you don’t get to see this beautiful play. It only runs until Feb. 28th. Call the box office at (239) 263-7990.