Tag Archives: Matthew Lombardo
Tour-de-force is frequently overused to describe any one-actor show in which the performer dons a few personas and feigns a few emotional pyrotechnics. To see an example of a true tour de force, witness the opening salvo of Tovah Feldshuh’s 10th anniversary tour of Golda’s Balcony that kicked off Wednesday at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
The proof that Stefanie Powers’ reincarnation of Tallulah Bankhead had thoroughly seduced the audience at the revival of Looped was not the waves of laughter at how adroitly she tossed off playwright Matthew Lombardo’s torrent of wry and wicked quips. It was in the crystalline silence that embraced her sudden turns of introspection as Bankhead exposed the emotional pain that she masked with the outsized persona of heedless hedonism that eclipsed her real life.
Stephanie Powers is stepping in as the emergency replacement for the lead part in a play in which she has 80 percent of the lines, doing it with less than two weeks’ rehearsal, and re-creating an iconic celebrity she personally knew in Looped, the slightly fictionalized account of Tallulah Bankhead’s comic and tragic – and substance abuse affected — attempt to dub one line of dialogue for her last movie a few years before she died.
There’s no taking your eyes off of Kathleen Turner for a minute as she commands the stage in Matthew Lombardo’s addiction-focused play High. While the star vehicle has some fairly unexceptional dialogue and a clichéd plot, which certainly contributed to its closing on Broadway a mere five days after it opened last April, Turner uses all the tricks in her veteran actress’s tool box to ensure that her audience hangs on every line. And they do. But while she is a force to be reckoned with in her role of the foul-mouthed, unconventional Sister Jamison “Jamie” Connelly, it’s not enough to lift High to angelic proportions.
Kathleen Turner doesn’t shy from acknowledging that her devotion to the play High, a harrowing look at the world of addiction, is somewhat rooted in her own battle with alcoholism. “I think I have some information,” she said with wry understatement on Tuesday, the day before she opens the play at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. “I certainly was abusing alcohol when I was fighting RA (rheumatoid arthritis.).”
It was surreal even by theater standards: Michael Lombardo’s drama about addiction High had broken box office records in its world premiere at Hartford’s TheaterWorks. And here they were, on opening night on Broadway in April 2011, already certain in the knowledge that the production was doomed. The result goes on display next week at Parker Playhouse, the second stop on High’s resurrection tour – this time co-produced by Lombardo.
This essay was written as a playwright’s note for his play High, opening this week at the Parker Playhouse.