NY Theater Review Sandi Durell
“It Has To Be You” is a delightful romantic comedy with a twist, but aren’t they all! Dorothy’s children, Mindy and Frank, are already planning to put her in a facility especially when they’ve been told by neighbors that Dot has been seen dancing naked on her balcony. She’s 75 years old.
It’s not quite that simple. They’re already counting the money when she’s gone – Frank (Adam Ferrara), an everyday kinda guy, is under pressure to save his marriage and pay for his kids’ private schools while jealous, uptight-busybody Mindy, reeling after a breakup from a long time relationship with a married man, can’t seem to get her life together.
What they soon come to realize is that Mom is not having a senior moment but is younger than springtime, having an affair with a 40 something year old man who came to tune the Bosendorfer and never left. And she doesn’t care about age – just essence!
Dorothy (Peggy J. Scott) is a free spirited, family loving eccentric who takes nude photos of herself and is having the time of her life with nice looking, low key Burt (Peter Davenport) who possesses many artistic qualities – he plays the piano, plants vegetables, paints and is enamored with Dot.
Mindy (Catherine Butterfield, who is also the playwright) is frantic at the thought that mom wants to marry Burt – what will happen to the house they grew up in, all the money? To the rescue – younger gay brother Jed (Jeffrey C. Hawkins), who lives the Hollywood lifestyle as a set designer, arrives. Instead of accusing Burt of being a gigolo (as Mindy and Frank have done), he takes the time to get to know him, finding out more than meets the eye.
Will Dorothy and Burt survive her children? Will Mindy, Frank and Jed come to terms with this interloper? And what will Burt eventually decide?
The set design, by Ian Paul Guzzone in this small space, has great charm with lighting by Michael Megliolia.
This little gem of a piece, with its talented ensemble, in the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at the Abingdon, is funny, clever and, in the hands of director Stuart Ross, who uses more than the staging area in the space, plays all the right notes: family, love, jealousy, heart break and self realization. The play may feel like a TV sitcom but the 90+ minutes (with intermission) keep the audience engaged and laughing.
It Has To Be You runs thru October 26th www.abingdontheatre.org 866-811-4111
*Photo: Kim T. Sharp