Strange Sun Theater produces Wickedest Woman, a fierce new play by Jessica Bashline. The production has as much to say about Ann Lohman’s life as it does about gender, women’s reproductive health, social status, shaming, and perspective.
Wickedest Woman tells the story of Ann Trow Lohman (Jessica O’Hara-Baker), also known as Madame Restell, who was famously put on trial for performing an abortion in the 1830s. Shortly after immigrating to the U.S. and her first husband’s death, Ann Trow becomes an apprentice to Dr. Evans (Dawn McGee), a doctor who provided women with contraceptives and powders for bringing back “courses.” Her second husband, Charles Lohman (Jose-Maria Aguila), convinces her that could have her own shop. Together they open a very successful business, selling medicines, practicing midwifery, and running a laying in hospital for unmarried women. As the controversy around her services germinates, her reputation grows, her relationship with her daughter Caroline (Emily Gardner Xu Hall) becomes strained, and the women she helps come and go. Regardless of society’s moral issues with her work in women’s health, her services are necessary.
Ms. Bashline literally gives Ann control of the story by allowing her to shout the District Attorney (Luke Zimmerman) offstage every time he tries to begin the trial scene. While it is a comical gimmick, it also seems to represent the idea that no matter what good deeds a person performs, history will be sure to remember (to even shout out) the worst. This very nature of this idea means that it is all important to gain the first person perspective – which is exactly what Ms. Bashline achieves in this play.
Designed by Anna Driftmier, the set was absolutely lovely. It felt like the bits and pieces of Ann Lohman’s life fitted together. It was interesting that a lot of elements were incomplete – with this sort of history, a lot of the truth is drowned out by the work of tabloids and newspapers that condemned her or painted her in a less than flattering light. Emily White’s period costume design was not extravagant and suited to the characters socio-economic status in both color and style.
Jessica O’Hara-Baker is absolutely stunning. Her Ann Lohman is passionate, matter of fact, and severe to enemies and compassionate to patients. Jose-Maria Aguila’s energy complements her well and his Charles Lohman is the epitome of ambition. The ensemble of actors were constantly playing opposite genders – a clear and powerful choice by director Melissa Crespo – and they excel at gender bending; it created comedic moments and generated a subtle duality. Standing out from the ensemble is Dawn McGee, she is a literal joy to watch. A scene between two policeman, played by Ms. McGee and Evan Daves, is absolutely delightful to watch. Jasmin Walker and Luke Zimmerman were the most consistent with their accents.
At a time when media is fighting to affect and shape our collective perspective, Strange Sun Theater’s production of Wickedest Woman is a reminder that there is always more to the story.
Wickedest Woman, Sun Strange Theater, WP Theater, 2162 Broadway (between 76th & 77th Street), New York, NY. Closes February 2nd.
Tickets are available at www.wickedestwomantheplay.com.
My View: IT’S TOUGH TO SWING LIKE FRANK….THIS TOUGH GUY CAN…..ROBERT DAVI
The atmosphere in The Boca Black Box was akin to The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas last night as movie/TV star Robert Davi (140 films and counting) swaggered onto the stage to sing and swing the songs of Frank Sinatra. His show, titled “My Kind Of Town” had all the elements of a Sinatra event thanks to Davi’s personality which radiates the same mystique and musical excitement that ‘Ol Blue Eyes” possessed. Robert Davi’s performance was not a great actor acting a role… this was Robert Davi, a great actor who started his career as a trained singer thrilling an audience singing songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, but with Davi’s own magnetism and vocal prowess. I don’t know if Sinatra ever played Boca Raton but Robert Davi turned Boca into ‘his kind of town last night” as he brought the musical substance and charisma of “the chairman of the board” to South Florida.
Davi’s had a long and distinguished career in show business and this Boca Black Box audience got to see a lot of the musical part of it last night. The tough guy movie actor sang the music of Frank swinging it “his way”
About Robert Davi:
Robert Davi, an American actor, singer, writer, and producer has played the roles of main villain and drug lord Franz Sanchez in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill. He was FBI Special Agent Bailey Malone in the NBC television series Proflier. He played a Vietnam veteran and FBI Special Agent Big Johnson in Die Hard. Davi played the opera-singing heavy Jake Fratelli in The goonies, Hans Zarba in Son of the Pink Panther and Al Torres in Showgirls. His album, Davi Sings Sinatra—On The Road to Romance, hit #6 on the Billboard jazz charts. Praised for his voice, Davi debuted as a headliner at The Venetian, in Las Vegas.
My View: Who Knew Broadway and 42nd Street Ran All The Way to Boca/Delray…The Wick Theatre
Who knew 42nd Street and Broadway ran all the way down to Boca/Delray and end at The Wick Theatre and Museum Club! In an event yesterday afternoon that rivaled any Broadway Opening Night Party, Marilynn & Kimberly Wick celebrated the opening of The Wick’s 2023/2024 season with a spectacular immersive exhibition of “Dancing Feet” The Experience, 42nd Street. They also had in attendance none other than the star of the original Tony Award Winning Broadway show (42nd Street) Lee Roy Reams on the Museum Club’s Stage to add commentary, sing, and have a fun filled talk back with the audience. Lee Roy, who starred as Billy Lawlor in the 1980 production, shared many anecdotes about the musical during the video presentation, including insights about renowned choreographer Gower Champion and his untimely death on the day of the show’s Broadway opening. The legendary show went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Choreography. While Reams continued his illustrious career in musical theatre, starring in numerous Broadway shows including The Producers and La Cage Aux Folles, and at The Wick, he created a sensation with his role as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!
“The Wick is breaking new ground in both entertainment and technology by creating these immersive experiences that both entertain and educate audiences about the history of Broadway,” said Kimberly Wick, curator. “As the owners of the largest Broadway costume collection in the nation, we are thrilled to add this innovation as another way to preserve the incredible artistry of our past for generations to come.”
Last year, The Wick Costume Museum underwent a dramatic high-tech transformation, resulting in a stunning new venue, rechristened The Museum Club at The Wick. The completely renovated space thrilled guests with 360-degree immersive video experiences, historic costume displays, dining, and entertainment.
My View: No Pause In The Laughter At Menopause The Musical 2
The hysterical sequel to the smash-hit Menopause The Musical is finally here and it’s National Tour landed at the Aventura Cultural Center in Florida this week. America, get ready to cheer and laugh on a cruise through “The Change” with your beloved ladies 5 years after their chance encounter in a department store. They have nothing in common but memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, not enough sex, too much sex and more! This hilarious musical parody set to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, will have you dancing in the aisles as the audience did at the performance we attended ( and has been doing since the original Menopause The Musical opened 20 years ago). If you think #1 was #1 wait till you see # 2.
My View: Maestro Steven Reineke Rehearses The New York Pops for Tonight’s Concert
The New York Pops under the baton of Maestro Steven Reineke kicks off the 2023-2024 season at Carnegie Hall tonight. The concert celebrates 21st Century Broadway. We were there as guest artists Haley Kilgore, Derek Klena, Javier Munoz and Ali Stroker rehearsed with the orchestra.
Check out the photos
My View: The Rolls Royce Of Music At Cafe Carlyle…. John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey
Henry Royce and Charles Rolls joined forces to create something that became an everlasting expression of excellence, and that’s exactly what John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey create. Their musical virtuosity, artistry, creativity, and personalities took last night’s Cafe Carlyle audience ( which included Maestro Steven Reineke of the New York Pops) on a musical journey that was smooth, elegant, and exciting. It’s their 17th year at Cafe Carlyle and here are some of my photos of a great evening. What a special birthday present for me in my __ year.
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