JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT, possibly Noel Coward’s theatrical swan song currently on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse features four fine actors and four divergent acting styles. Director Art Manke has Roxanne Hart, Zach Bandler, Bruce Davison and Sharon Lawrence deftly reciting Coward’s lines in a terrific set by Tom Buderwitz, the hotel room where Hugo (Bruce Davison) holds forth with his former secretary, now wife of twenty years, Hilde (Roxanne Hart). A visit by an old flame, Carlotta (shapely Sharon Lawrence) promises uncomfortable banter and eventually a down to business discussion addressing an issue that Hugo has avoided all of his life: his ‘interest’ in homosexuality.
|Bruce Davison, Roxanne Hart and Sharon Lawrence|
Photo credit Michael Lamont
It’s the sixties, when gay men (and others) were just peeking out of their closets and to old timers like Hugo, any hint of mint could be destructive to their careers, even though Hugo’s success as a writer has been exceptional. Perhaps the shame that still lingers in our society even fifty years later caused the fear that erupts in Hugo as Carlotta explains that she anticipates writing her memoir. She has in her possession incriminating letters sent by Hugo to his former ‘friend,’ Perry. Carlotta is an Actress with a capital “A.” Lawrence’s stage presence is appropriately broad. Compared to Davison’s studied portrayal of Hugo, the contrast is rather one of style. Coward’s words are and always have been stylish and poetic. The entire production is testament to style. The feeling of the thirties, even set in the sixties prevails. This is how the upper crust lives, waited on by room service with the mere touch of a button.
As always, the Pasadena Playhouse Opening Nights are full to the brim with celebrities and patrons. Buderwitz’s hotel is perfect. David Kay Mickelsen’s costumes are also perfectly done. The money is on the stage. The presentation is thoroughly professional. Roxanne Hart as Hilde, Hugo’s wife, has adopted an interesting German or Germanic accent that is not always easy to decipher. However her attitude and proficiency expand the character throughout. Though seldom on stage, our Room Service waiter, Zach Bandler is crisp and clear. No mistaking that he is there to serve and he does so efficiently.
It may be the perfection that makes this production falter a little. Everything is so just so. Energy in the second act exceeded the first and that was a good thing. Over all, this is a Broadway play revived for a Broadway audience come to see the play and to be seen.
JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT by Noel Coward
The Pasadena Playhouse
39 S. El Molino
Pasadena, California 91101
Tuesday through Friday at 8PM
Saturdays at 4PM and 8PM
Sundays at 2PM and 7PM
Through April 13, 2014
Tickets and information
626 356 7529