PLAYBILL SPOTLIGHT: THE HEIDI CHRONICLES

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THE HEIDI CHRONICLESHola mi gente! How about this spring-like weather we’ve been having? Bizarre, I know. However, in the meantime #RBATC has been busy finding cool events that coincide with Women’s History Month. For this latest adventure I had the privilege of getting a press pass to The Music Box Theatre for its revival of the Tony award-winning play “The Heidi Chronicles” written by Wendy Wasserstein. The show was a smash hit back in the late 1980’s winning the Tony and a Pulitzer for drama. The play is now back (with strictly limited engagement) to capture the hearts of future feminists and art lovers alike. The talented Elisabeth Moss of TV seriesMad Men and “Girl Interrupted ” and plays our main protagonist: Ms. Heidi Holland. Jason Biggs (American Pie, Orange Is the New Black) and Bryce Pinkham (Tony award-winning play A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”) both play Heidi’s quasi love interests – but more on that a little later.

Night of the preview was your standard stormy wintery/spring night – I almost canceled but then thought to myself ‘I’m not going to miss out on seeing my beloved Peggy Olson (Elisabeth’s character on Mad Men). Her character on show (set in New York City in the 1960s) is one that resonates with this Nerdygirl as she too works in a male dominated work environment, and works as copy editor. I fell in love with her character and how she transitioned from mousy secretary to a no-holds-barred copy chief at Sterling Cooper & Partners. The two characters of both TV and play have similarities in that they both represent the underdog who’s challenged for being female – and yet, amongst all that testosterone, inevitably stands her ground.

THE HEIDI CHRONICLESThe Music Box Theatre is the location for the play and I was extremely ecstatic because I’m familiar with the theatre. Last year, I had won tickets to the now Tony-award winning play A Gentleman’s Guide;” and to be honest, I was giddy to be back because aside from it being a gorgeous theatre, nearly every seat in the house guarantees a great view. And to add the cherry to this Nerdygirl’s cake, here was my second opportunity to see the talented Bryce Pinkham. Bryce plays Monty Navarro in “A Gentlemen’s Guide” to comedy perfection. He emotes a bevy of roller coaster feelings in the play – it is highly recommended – but enough fan girly behavior and back to Ms. Heidi.

As the curtain rises and the spotlight beams to its full glory, there stands my gorgeous Peggy, I mean Heidi. THE HEIDI CHRONICLESAt this point, I’m internally squealing to the top of my lungs sitting in my red velvet chair – but I’ve learned to compose myself, sort of. Elisabeth plays Heidi, an art historian and curator of female artists. The play starts at a university lecture hall set in the 1980s. During her art history class, she goes over a number of paintings with a handful of slides. *Sidenote: can I just tell you how much I miss that cliquey sound of a photo projector? So synonymous of the 1980s and now seen as some odd artifact that sadly this generation will never experience, but I digress. Anyways, all paintings presented are, dare I say, a portraiture understanding into Heidi’s lifestyle choices. The play breaks down into three decades with impressive music to help distinguish between decades. From great artists such as Janis Joplin, to Fleetwood Mac, to The Go-Go’s – pure sonic bliss for a true music lover like myself. You could wrap yourself within those lyrics and yet still be in the moment with our main protagonist. Music is key… that’s all I’m going to say.

The play goes through cycles of character building. When we are first introduced to Heidi, she’s a precocious teen but still very much naive. At a random party she meets Peter Patrone played by Bryce. At first glance, he appears to be the ideal match for Ms. Heidi. They have tons in common and have a rapport that particularly beams off the stage. As she transitions into college life, Peter is “put to the side” as Heidi comes into her own. For this phase is Heidi’s life, we see a more thick-skinned and sexually confident persona. Peter is now a long distance “boy-friend” attending another university, and so now enters Heidi’s second love interest played by the cutie-patootie Jason Biggs. Jason plays Scoop (yes, you read that correctly) Rosenbaum. Scoop is an arrogant, semi charming lothario with enough egos to fill the Empire State Building. Scoop’s a journalist with ambitions to help his fellow man, but as time changes us all, those aspirations quickly change into world domination. And although Heidi falls madly in love with Scoop, her ideal of choosing what’s best for her never falters. They have a shaky relationship because as he so eloquently describes “you are no longer my love interest but rather my rival.” Had she just been more submissive, he would’ve married her, eh? Sideye… that’s all I’m going to say.

THE HEIDI CHRONICLES

Fast forward to the late 1980s and everyone has reached his or her career potential. Peter (Heidi’s first beau) is now a successful pediatrician and proud gay man with a beau of his own. Scoop has now reached the equivalency of Trump-like status, with a mistress to boot. Heidi is now a successful art historian, curator, and advocate for equal rights. Hasn’t found her “happiness” in a partner but rather has chosen to take the reins in finding her true self. The play goes through a bevy of emotions and social issues that were taboo at the time. But what’s even sadder is that these same issues of inequality still plague us today, 26 years later. Heidi finds happiness within herself because before you can really love anyone else, you have to love yourself first. At least that’s the message I gathered from the play. I won’t spoil the end as to how she finds her way, but it’s a decision that made sense to this character.

With regards to impressions of the play: Act I was hysterically funny and relatable. Music and dialogue flowed effortlessly. Act II dragged on a bit and had some really awkward moments that didn’t make sense to the storyline. I don’t know if it was pre-show jitters or a new script had been adapted as I overheard a fellow patron behind me critiquing. Either way, it still was  an amazing live experience. You could tell that each actor poured his and her heart into their chosen roles. *Sidenote: I’ve always had a crush on Jason Biggs for being extremely funny but I had no idea of his dramatic chops. He really held his own up there against theatre veteran Bryce. And Bryce can always pull the waterworks out of me. There was this one scene in the play that made me wish I had brought my other purse to fit my box of Kleenex. Let’s just say, “That boy is GUUD!” [Insert Arsenio Hall’s voice from the church scene in the “Coming to America” movie.]

“The Heidi Chronicles” is now playing with strictly limited engagement at The Music Box Theatre. To purchase your ticket, click here. Also, as a reminder, “Mad Men” is sadly coming to an end with the last few episodes soon to air on AMC. Sunday, April 5, 2015 is the premiere of the last few episodes, and sadly the beginning of the end for Ms. Peggy Olsen. Moreover, if any of my lovely readers are avid “Mad Men” fans like myself, then you definitely want to check out the Museum of Moving Image (located in Astoria Queens) for their current exhibition Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” showcasing the creative process behind the show, the wardrobe and set props from the show. Exhibition is currently on display from now till June 14, 2015.

Mad Men Cast Pic

 

Anywho, hope y’all found my review helpful and please stay tuned for the next #Nerdygirl adventure. Until next time…

Artsy besos,

Roz Baron

 

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