Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
How does a rich girl know when friendships are real and love is true? Some people think it's easier to fall in love with a rich person than with a poor person. Certainly money solves one set of life's problems but it creates other, more intimate problems.
Dee Hoty, Crystal Finn, Tony Roach and Liz Larsen
In Victoria Stewart's play Rich Girl, the characters wrestle with these issues in the playing area of the Second Stage Theater.
Eve (Dee Hoty) worked her way from being a poor woman with a child to being a financial guru on television. Eve has fame, money and cancer. She places her daughter Claudine (Crystal Finn) in a prominent position in a foundation Eve supports. Claudine learns how to manage the foundation, which awards grants to various organizations. Unfortunately, Claudine is plain looking in a world of successful and beautiful women.
Henry (Tony Roach) applies to the foundation for a grant for a theater company he directs. Henry is handsome and attentive to Claudine. Claudine hasn't had a boyfriend and suddenly Henry sweeps her off her feet and proposes marriage to her.
Maggie (Liz Larsen) works as an assistant to Eve and a life coach for Claudine. Claudine is overwhelmed by her mother's rejection of Henry and Maggie's sensible advice.
Henry seems honestly in love with Claudine and then he makes misstepsreminding us that the road to love is not smooth and easy. Or, perhaps, Henry simply reveals himself.
Unfortunately, Claudine hasn't had enough experience in life to know if Henry is good husband material or a first-rate jerk.
Wilson Chin (Scenic Designer) has created a sophisticated home for the rich girl. The set is spacious and elegant and would intimidate any poor boy.
Jennifer Caprio (Costume Designer) has dressed the characters appropriately. For example, Eve is dressed like a TV starin an expensive looking outfit that will look good on TV or in the seminars she leads for women. Claudine may be rich, but she never looks as put-together as Eve. Henry dresses like a theater director on a tight budgetjeans, plain shirt and a jacket.
Michael Bloom (Director) helps his performers become distinctive, motivated characters. He makes the production expansive by using all of space on the large set Wilson Chin designed for the production.
Rich Girl has an almost perfect cast. Dee Hoty, who got her start in theatre at the Cleveland Play House, has earned three Tony Award nominations. Her Eve is beautiful, stylish and the best of the TV financial gurus.
Liz Larsen slowly develops as a character who needs to get away from living in the shadow of others and find her own way in the world.
Tony Roach remains an ambiguous character throughout the play. He couldn't be more charming and likeable. But, don't forget he's an actor and director.
Crystal Finn grows as a woman throughout the play. Unfortunately, her character's growth has been handicapped by a controlling mother. So, as the head of the Eve Foundation and a millionaire in her own right, she is confused by the life decisions thrown at her.
Rich Girl has an intriguing script. I suspect the play will be popular with community theaters. The playwright is responsible for the play's biggest flawit is too long. The second act seems redundant in too many sections. A good editor would help Stewart cut about ten to fifteen minutes from the show and turn a good script into a superior production.
However, with Michael Bloom at the helm and an outstanding cast, Rich Girl provides an evening of riches for the audience.
Rich Girl, by Victoria Stewart. Second Stage, The Cleveland Play House through May 19, 2013. Ticket information: 216-241-6000 or at www.clevelandplayhouse.com.
Direction by Michael Bloom
- David Ritchey