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Regional Reviews by Nancy Grossman

Light Up the Sky
Lyric Stage Company

Also see Nancy's reviews of Mothers and Sons and The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville


Kathy St. George, Richard Snee, Jordan Clark, Will McGarrahan, Will LeBow, Paula Plum, Bobbie Steinbach, and Terrence O'Malley
An ensemble cast of some of Boston's finest and funniest actors is lighting up the stage at the Lyric Stage Company in Moss Hart's 1948 backstage comedy Light Up the Sky. Set in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston as a troupe prepares for an out-of-town tryout, Hart populates his play with stock characters who are anything but stereotypes in the hands of these talented thespians. The egocentric leading lady, the starry-eyed playwright, the emotional director, and the pushy producer—you'll recognize the types, but you've never seen them like this before. Scott Edmiston directs this all-star team and they hit it out of the park with humor, heart, and a couple of good old-fashioned show tunes.

Hart's snappy dialogue is delivered with crackle and pop by the likes of gum-chomping Kathy St. George (Frances Black, the producer's wife), dramatic Paula Plum (leading lady Irene Livingston), sardonic Bobbie Steinbach (Stella Livingston, Irene's mother), high-strung Will McGarrahan (Carleton Fitzgerald, the director), and prickly Will LeBow (Sidney Black, the producer). Somewhat less flashy, but no less on target, are Alejandro Simoes as the out-of-his-depth playwright Peter Sloan, who gets some down-to-earth mentoring from Richard Snee as Owen Turner, an older, wiser playwright. Rounding out the cast are Jordan Clark (Miss Lowell, Irene's secretary), Bob Mussett (William H. Gallagher, a Shriner), and Terrence O'Malley (Tyler Rayburn, Irene's husband).

Light Up the Sky follows the form of the well-made play with a straightforward story that has only one requirement for its audience, that being to sit back and enjoy it. In addition to the crisp direction and the wonderful ensemble performances, the production offers a party for the eyes. Janie E. Howland's lavish set depicts the upscale class of the hotel suite and withstands the scenery chewing. A white baby grand piano is a central piece put to good use by McGarrahan (also the music director) and LeBow. The delicious costumes by Gail Astrid Buckley are evocative of the glamor of the era. Gowns and furs are easily seen, but notice the details like shoes, tiaras, and jewelry, especially those worn by St. George. Lighting design is by Karen Perlow and Samuel Hanson is the sound designer.

The vintage of the play notwithstanding, Lyric Stage makes Light Up the Sky feel fresh and timeless. Unlike many recent works, it doesn't require its audience to figure things out in order to have a good time. The angst these characters feels is mostly caused by their own egos and fed by their over-the-top dramatics, but no one is really hurt by their antics and they remain likable. They are colorful individuals with a common goal, their challenge being to dial back their personalities to achieve the magic they seek to make for the stage. In the end, it is their affection for each other and the theatre that allows them to see their folly (which we have been seeing and laughing at all along) and figure out a way for the show to go on. There's no business like show business!

Light Up The Sky, performances through June 13, 2015, at Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-585-5678 or www.lyricstage.com.

Written by Moss Hart, Directed by Scott Edmiston; Scenic Design, Janie E. Howland; Costume Design, Gail Astrid Buckley; Lighting Design, Karen Perlow; Sound Design, Samuel Hanson; Music Director, Will McGarrahan; Assistant Director, Pablo Hernandez Basulto; Production Stage Manager, Nerys Powell; Assistant Stage Manager, Greg Nash

Cast (in alphabetical order): Jordan Clark, Will LeBow, Will McGarrahan, Bob Mussett, Terrence O'Malley, Paula Plum, Alejandro Simoes, Kathy St. George, Richard Snee, Bobbie Steinbach


Photo: Mark S. Howard



- Nancy Grossman



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