Set in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1913, Cherubina, which is based on a true story, has opened at the Sanford Meisner Theater in New York City which is located on 11th Avenue. The famous Russian artistic periodical Apollon received a letter with verses on a perfumed paper. The verses were filled with half-revelations about its author who was supposedly a beautiful maiden with dark secrets. The same day a woman with a beautiful voice phoned the journal's editor, Nikolai. He arranged for publication of the verses. Over the next few months, publications of the newfound poetic star were the major hit of the magazine, and many believed that they had found a major new talent in Russian poetry. Nilolai thought her name was Baroness Cherubina de Gabriak, a Russian-speaking girl of French and Polish ancestry, who lived in a very strict Roman Catholic aristocratic family that severely limited the girl's contacts with the outside world because of an unspoken secret in her past. Nikolai fell in love with Cherubina. He wrote a series of passionate love letters to her and received quite passionate answers. The fame of the newfound genius was short-lived. In November it was discovered that Baroness Cherubina de Gabriak did not exist at all, and the verses were written by a disabled schoolteacher, Elisaveta Ivanovna Dmitrieva, with the participation of Max who was a contributor and editor of Apollon. Elisa suffered from tuberculosis of the bones and was left lame and barely able to walk. The production is a dark comedy that explores the relationship between art and love, beauty and truth.
The role of Nikolai is played by Teddy Bergman who does an excellent job bringing to life the passion that Nikolai develops for Cherubina. Jimmy Owens, who is making his New York debut, played the role of Elisaï¿½s friend Max. Although he had trouble with his lines at times, he brings out the true nature of Max as he falls in love with Elisa. Amanda Fulks plays the role of Elisa. She portrays Eliza with the coldness than has resulted from her dissatisfaction with her career and love life. All three cast members work well together to bring us the story of Cherubina.
Paul Cohen has written an original play which is somewhat wordy at times, but continues to hold your interest through the play. Paul Cohen is a native New Yorker and a product of its public school system. His plays include Mourn the Living Hector, The Library Play and Between You and Me. This production shows that Mr. Cohen has a bright future in New York Theater. Alexis Podedouris directs the show. His direction allows us to see that Niki was outraged by the thought that his passionate romantic correspondence might in fact have been caused by a mocking Max. Mr. Poledouris directing credits include All This Beautiful Life, Baby Face and Momma. The work of the three actors, the playwright and the director make it worth the trip to 11th Avenue.