In The Wings

  • Date:
    September 1, 2005
    Review by:
    Polly Wittenberg

    Review by Polly Wittenberg


    Written by: Stewart F. Lane
    Directed by: Jeremy Dobrish
    Cast: Lisa Datz, Josh Prince, Marilyn Sokol, Brian Henderson, and Peter Scolari.
    Synopsis: Set in 1978, it tells the story of Steve (he's Jewish) and Melinda (she's not), two aspiring actors in love with each other and the theatre. They get their big break when they are cast in a new musical, 'I Married A Communist', written by their svengali-like acting teacher Bernardo. But when the show moves to Broadway, only Melinda is asked to move with it. Can love stay alive on the Great White Way?

    Polly Wittenberg's Review.

    Stewart F. Lane, the multi-career phenom who wrote In the Wings�a new comedy now playing at the Promenade on the Upper West Side--is also a Broadway producer and a restaurateur.

    Lane is clearly hooked on theatre lore and here unwraps a tale of two young stars-to-be struggling with their budding careers and their personal relationship in a fifth-floor walk-up in New York City in the late 1970s. The other characters include an autocratic but disheveled acting teacher and a Jewish mother full of sharp one-liners and a heart of gold.

    The story is propelled by the production of a new musical called �I Married a Communist� and there are various references to HUAC, Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn, which will be recognized mostly by Upper West Siders of a certain age. There are also a few forgettable songs, e.g. �Can I Get a Witness?�

    The only mystery in an otherwise entirely predictable plot is how a tall, skinny, unkempt mustachioed would-be actor winds up playing the famously short sleek and clean-shaven Cohn in the show within the show. The answer provided to that question is both contrived and absurd.

    As directed by Jeremy Dobrish on a set (which features the predicable A Chorus Line poster and bookcase built of bricks and boards) by William Barclay, In the Wings has an energetic cast. Lisa Datz, a young Laura Linney-lookalike, is smart and attractive as the �goy-toy� to the appealing Josh Prince, who plays the quintessential Scarsdale prince (a would-be �Jewish Bob Goulet�) with whom she shares the apartment. Marilyn Sokol reprises a familiar role as his mother. Her demeanor and comic timing are perfect. Brian Henderson and Peter Scolari are scruffy and revolting, as required.

    None of this is either original or very funny. Writer Lane should keep his other day jobs.

    Polly Wittenberg



    What the critics had to say.....

    NEIL GENZLINGER of the NEW YORK TIMES says �Has enough clich�s in it to drown the best actor. Yet Marilyn Sokol, portraying the biggest clich� of them all, the meddling Jewish mother, manages to draw genuine laughs, and lots of them. She's not around long enough to salvage the proceedings, but the skill is something to admire.�

    External links to full reviews from newspapers

    New York Times