A night of spectacle is currently playing at the New Ohio Theatre. The legendary Penny Arcade (Trinket Dugan) and Mink Stole (Celeste Delacroix Griffin) the stage for a night of music, glitz, and bawdy humor, in a new look at Tennessee Williams The Mutilated. The vaudevillian production is made up of short scenes (that felt more like skits), musical breaks played by the onstage three-piece combo Tin Pan, dated jokes, cheesy slapstick, and small dance numbers. Overall a lively, fun production.In New York it is the first revival of The Mutilated in 38 years and there is no surprise why.
The story is not a new one, an odd couple tale, of two ladies from very different backgrounds: Celeste (Arcade), just released from jail because of shoplifting and prostitution, goes to visit her old ‘friend’ Trinket (Stole), an heiress with a secret mutilation. Celeste desperate for money, food, and a place to stay, stalks Trinket and threatens to tell the world of Trinket’s mutilation. Trinket resists and hilarity ensues. The language is dated (takes place on Christmas Eve in New Orleans in the late 1940s) and tends to drone on and on, giving Arcade the opportune moment to milk it to the audience. Arcade and Stole are women with presence and passion, however their tendency to go to the extreme draws the audience away from ever really caring about the characters or storyline.
A wonderful addition to the script was music by Jesse Selegut giving life to the New Orleans underbelly. I was tapping my toes and blown away by the talent of the underutilized ensemble. Played impeccably by Tin Pan the music was lovely, new, and dynamic, it felt in a completely different world from the rest of the show.
The design was perfect. Anka Lupes created a world without privacy, detailed and structured but without walls; a place where no character can hide their secrets or motives. The set design, combined with lights by Graham Kindred and costumes by Angela Wendt, made the New Orleans French Quarter glamorous and flashy (literally, wait till the vanity mirror lights start to flash in the music numbers) but with a little grit. This dark comedy is directed by Cosmin Chivu.
Additional cast members of The Mutilated include Warren Bub as Maxie, Jonelle Rheubottom as the Bird Girl, Tom Drummer as Bernie, Niko Papastefanou as Bruno,Patrick Darwin Williams as Slim, Jesse Selengut as Jack in Black, and Alec Funiciello, Jon Wayne Martin, Randall Holloway, Alex Nicholson, Kennebrew Taylor, Amanda Salazar, and Ashley Burroughs as members of the chorus/ensemble.
The characters were entertaining, the design was captivating and intricate, the music was vivacious, the spectacle was grand but it lacked an emotion, a true connection with the audience (and I am not talking about the aside punch lines, there were plenty of those).
If you are in the mood for a cheesy holiday spectacle head down to the New Ohio now through December 1st. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at newohiotheatre.org or calling 888.596.1027.