The Theater Barn: Heavy hand prevails
NEW LEBANON, N.Y. -- "You Should Be So Lucky" finds playwright Charles Busch in a playfully romantic temperament.
Busch's farce -- which is being given a generally effortful season-opening production at The Theater Barn -- centers around a hapless young electrologist named Christopher Ladendorf (a generally appealing and resourceful Daniel Dunlow), whose life is as tattered as the rundown Greenwich Village apartment in which he lives and plies his profession.
Christopher clearly is at sixes and sevens until good fortune falls into his life, literally, when he rescues an elderly Jewish widower, Seymour Rosenberg (John Trainor), who has fallen on the street outside Christopher's apartment building.
What:YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY by Charles Busch.
Directed by Phil Rice; costume design, Logane Robinson; set designer, Abe Phelps; lighting designer, Allen Phelps.
Where: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y.
When: Through July 6. Eves.: 8 Thu.-Sat. Mats.: 4 Sat.; 2 Sun.
Tickets: $23, $25
Info: (518) 794-8989
Christopher's natural unplugged kindness -- which includes giving Rosenberg some free treatments -- does not go unrewarded. The obscenely wealthy Rosenberg pressures Christopher into attending a swank charity ball, all at Rosenberg's expense, where, it turns out fate introduces Christopher to his Prince Charming -- Walter (Stephen Powell).
In effect, Rosenberg becomes Christopher's fairy godmother, even after his inconvenient accidental death. He leaves Christopher half his estate, $10 million, which doesn't sit well with Rosenberg's estranged adult daughter, Lenore (Erin Waterhouse).
The course of true love does not run smoothly. In addition to Lenore, Christopher is besieged by his sister, Polly (Jamie Bock); a mean-spirited talk show host named Wanda (Elizabeth C.J. Roberts); and the spirits of Seymour's dead wife and his brother, both of whom take possession of Christopher at will.
Under Phil Rice's heavyhanded direction, "You Should Be So Lucky" moves fitfully and without consistent human dimension.
With Busch, excess is drawn with finesse, a quality sorely missing from Rice's directorial arsenal.
Trainor manages a credible Rosenberg (his reaction when Christopher tells him he is gay is priceless) even if his Jewish accent has a mind of its own -- now you hear it, now you don't.
Dunlow spends most of the first act finding his footing but once he does, he is endearing and affecting. His transformations when he is possessed are brilliantly crafted and executed. It is in those moments, in fact, that Busch is most alive on the Theater Barn stage.