We kicked off the 2011 in an unexpected way. We were scheduled to see the Lincoln Center Theatre production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on January 16. However, LCT announced earlier this week that the show would close today, three weeks ahead of schedule. Luckily it was easy to exchange tickets to get into the matinee.
The musical, based on Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 film, has a spectacular cast, headlined by Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott and Laura Benanti. It’s also got Tony winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) at the helm and words & music by David Yazbek (a favorite of ours for his scores for The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).
When the show opened in early November it got mixed reviews, with most of the negativity directed at the show’s book by Jeffrey Lane. I’m surprised that word of mouth didn’t keep the show open to at least the end of its limited engagement. The show was an absolute delight. Yes, there were some odd bits–the first act was a little slow to take off and there were a couple of short scenes in the second act that seemed out of place or unnecessary. However, Yazbek’s score is excellent with some great Spanish influences. And the top line cast, joined by American Idol season one runner-up Justin Guarini, South Pacific’s Danny Bursteiun and the always wonderful Mary Beth Peil (who we last saw in the revival of Nine) make even the bumpy moments fly.
Benanti really shines as model-dating-terrorist Candela. Her ditzy demeanor was hysterical. She stole every scene she was in and really worked comic magic with Act I’s “Model Behavior.” It was great to see Mitchell back on a Broadway stage for the first time in seven years. Scott was her usual fantastic self. LuPone really seemed to be having a great time as the slightly crazy Lucia who just wants 20 years of her life back.
I hope LCT records the score for this show. It would be sad for these fine performances to be lost, especially since it’s some of the best Broadway actors around today. It’s too bad the show didn’t make it. Broadway’s was fickle as 2010 closed and this is just one of many shows that couldn’t find it’s audience.
Update: On January 3, Sh-K-Boom announced it would record Women on the Verge… at the end of the month for a spring release.