‘Debutante’

 

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NY Theater Review By Marcina Zaccaria

 

Written by Ryann Weir and created and directed by Anne Tippe, ‘Debutante’ is a light, funny show playing at the Goddard Riverside Community Center. There are plenty of fun throwbacks to the 80s, including a few rounds of jazzercise, and some great allusions to the show, ‘Dynasty.’ Lessons about etiquette and elocution make up much of the drama.

UnknownThe struggle, the toil, and the questions asked before the young women make their big debut in society are all addressed. As the debutantes are officially striving forward to become part of fashionable society, much attention is paid to the gestures they make and the relationships they form. Whether their world is defined by the almighty dollar or their reactions to the the criticism of their peers and mentors, the debutantes take the challenges of the big day in stride.

Director Annie Tippe has created a quick, smart drama with a soul. In the end, all three of the girls make it into fashionable society. Rochelle Slovin plays Edna, a grande dame who is deeply committed and encouraging. Liza de Weerd plays Ms Peasgood, the teacher at the prominent school. They round out the ensemble that also includes, Elizabeth Alderfer, Anna Abhau Elliott, Eshan Bay, Lena Hudson, Keilly McQuail, Ben Otto, and Ronald Alexander Peet. It is a balanced cast with young members struggling to make it to the big day, and refined and elegant mentors giving advice to help the girls navigate through society.

The play embraces many of the components of sketch comedy or a good musical, including broad movement sequences and bold costumes. In some ways, ‘Debutante,’ is a work the company devised for their peers. The audience was able to get a laugh from the situations leading up to the big day. Other more serious moments break through. In the last moment of the play, one of the debutantes, having lost her mother, recognizes that she has the strength to move forward.

Scenic design by Daniel Dabdoub emphasizes the best way to utilize what looks like a converted gym at the Goddard Community Center. There is a great revelation of space at the end with the young debutantes in white and the yellow flowers in the background. Lighting design by Joe Cantalupo includes a disco ball.

 

‘Debutante’ runs from April 23 –May 10.   The Equity Approved Showcase is playing at the Bernie Wohl Center at the Goddard Riverside Community Center, 647 Columbus Avenue (at 91st St). For tickets and information, feel free to visit, http://www.debutanteplay.com/tickets-info/.

Photos: Bailey Carr

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