The disco at the end of Time

Icons Y2K

By Suzanne Bachner
Directed by David E. Leidholdt
John Montgomery Theatre Company
134 W. 26th St. (627-7076)
Equity showcase (closes Aug. 14)

Still haven't made plans for New Years' Eve? Just in time for millennial festivities comes Icons Y2K. Its December 31, 1999, and an eclectic assortment of well-known and not-so-well-known historical figures have gathered at Club Y2K to ring in the next millennium. Club Y2K is definitely a happening place, pulsing with disco favorites, fabulous colored lights, and, of course - a mirror ball. Attractive cast members in silver, sequins and blue wigs welcome the audience, offering them drinks and the opportunity to dance. After such a fun pre-show, would the show itself be a let-down?

Unfortunately a great premise gets lost in a series of vignettes dealing almost totally in explicit sexual content. In musical-chairs fashion the characters try to connect with each other in ultimately unsatisfactory ways. A major problem is Ms. Bachner's script, which in its present state (this was a workshop performance) does not define most of the characters well enough. It is a credit to the talented cast that they all managed to find moments of poignancy and humor, despite the generalized characters they were given to work with.

The exception was the beautifully written role of Janis Joplin, revealing the many facets of the '60s icon, from her appalling substance abuse to her incredible charisma and sexuality. Anna Cody captured "Pearl"'s essence in an exceptionally fine performance, veering from over-the-top bravado one moment to self-conscious insecurity the next. Margaret Stockton made a delightfully lusty Queen Elizabeth, but seemed hampered by the limited scope of what she was given to do. Mark Diaz brought charm and sex appeal to the one-note character of 1950s icon Mr. Clean. Alex McCord brought energy and dry humor to the sexually jaded Russian 1940s icon, Dolores.

Alexander R. Warner was boyishly appealing as Mawgspawn, the teenage computer whiz who has actually created the whole evening via his computer, and Trish Minskoff turned in a great performance as the hostess/dominatrix Lola, and later the prim but game schoolmarm Miss Prunella. Francis P. O'Flynn was charmingly sleazy as the circa 1981 almost-superstar, Vincent. Danny Wiseman was wonderful in the difficult role of Randy, the 1950s southern good ol' boy transvestite.

Director David E. Leidholdt did his best to keep up the pace, but the inevitably dull sameness of the piece got in his way. John Tees III's bright colored lights added brilliance to Charles Townsend Wittreich, Jr.'s bright shiny disco set, and his use of ungelled lights effectively communicated the squalor of the obligatory disgusting bathroom found in most discos.

The provocative pre-show costumes were provided by Manny's Closet and Lior Sar, and the characters' costumes, designed by Mistress Debbie Alves, were appropriate to the characters.

(Also featuring Clemente Ramirez, Douglas Shearer, Lynn Sherwood, and Laura Burns).

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Julie Halpern