Barbara and Scott check in on Movin' Out, attend The Day Emily Married, and go to the movies with Scott Coulter.
John Selya continues to literally throw himself into this production: His leaping, falling, and fighting is astonishing to watch, especially when you consider that he's been giving this full-out performance since early in the 2002-2003 season. Ashley Tuttle also remains in the show and she continues to carry its heart with grace and beauty.
The sensational Elizabeth Parkinson is no longer with Movin' Out but her replacement, Nancy Lemenager, late of Never Gonna Dance, puts her own spin on the character. If Parkinson was thrilling but unattainable, Lemenager is winning and wonderfully gamine-like. She's the girl next door -- assuming that the girl next door is a sensational dancer. The rest of the cast puts it out there with zeal and zest.
A show designed to appeal to the international audience that need not speak English to enjoy its many pleasures, Movin' Out appears to be movin' right along.
It's great to see Primary Stages, in its brand new home at 59E59, score a genuine hit with its production of The Day Emily Married. It's even greater to consider the success of Horton Foote, who continues to create important work in his later life. Foote's unequaled perception of and ability to portray the delicate nuances of the rural American character has earned him accolades through the years, and the praise should continue in response to this sensitively directed, stunningly acted production.
What's particularly compelling about The Day Emily Married is the subtlety of the story; Foote tells a tale not unlike The Heiress. It's about a plain woman named Emily (Hallie Foote) trying to find happiness with a man (James Colby) who may or may not be interested in her only because of her family's money. Our middle-aged heroine has two well-meaning and loving parents (Estelle Parsons and William Biff McGuire) who are as real as rain, trying to help their daughter even as they destroy her life.
The entire cast is exceptional. Parsons and McGuire use all of their experience to give towering performances; Hallie Foote artfully embodies poor Emily with a brooding unhappiness; Colby walks a difficult line in a cunning piece of acting; and Pamela Payton-Wright, in a supporting role, is superb. Director Michael Wilson never intrudes on the characters but, rather, moves them through Foote's delicate tale with a quiet stylishness.
Coulter's Movie Melodies
Scott Coulter's new show at the Duplex is called Cinema Toast and this tribute to the movie music that touched his life is crisp, buttered by his sweet tenor voice. The engaging act benefits from Coulter's approach to the material; rather than toss off an hour of Academy Award-winning songs, a celebration of MGM musicals, or the movie music of Marilyn and Alan Bergman -- all of which might be wonderful shows -- this show illuminates celluloid memories that are, at once, personal and universal.
We follow Coulter as he comes of age through his relationship to the songs of the silver screen. The centerpiece of the show is a breathtaking two-song set of "The Summer Knows" (from The Summer of '42) and "Call Me" (which was used in American Gigolo). A versatile and compelling performer, Coulter is easy on stage; his patter is natural, unforced, and always funny. He sets up his song selections well, gliding into renditions of tunes like "9 to 5," "Can You Read My Mind?" (from Superman), and, in a duet with musical director Michael Holland, "Mrs. Robinson" (from The Graduate).
Coulter's vaulting tenor, with its poignant cry, is his vocal trademark; he uses it to stunning effect to capture the sweeping romance of the movies in his rendition of "Love is a Many Splendored Thing." By the end of his show, you will agree that cabaret is a many splendored thing when it's done by an artist of Coulter's caliber. You can catch Cinema Toast every Monday night in August at 7pm at the Duplex.