Theater News Online
free issue
London Theatre Reviews
NY Theater Reviews
LTN Recommendations
NYTN Recommendations
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
London Theatre Archives
NY Theater Archives
Latest New York News
Latest London News
NY News Archives
London News Archives
Peter Filichia's Monday Quiz
Dining and Travel
London Theatre Listings
NY Broadway Listings
Off-Broadway Listings
London Tickets
Advertise with us

Give a Gift


Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Manhattan Theatre Club, New York

By Robert Cashill

  Kate Mulgrew

John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, but more than 140 years later playwright Charles Busch pumps another round into the corpse with Our Leading Lady. The show wastes an interesting real-life subject, preeminent Civil War era actress Laura Keene, on a painfully dull comedy, which dawdles in the first act, then succumbs to a lethal sentimentality in the second. Played bitchily, but not all that intriguingly, by the formidable Kate Mulgrew, Keene has dragged her warhorse vehicle Our American Cousin to the capitol's Ford's Theatre. Her scheme to take over the venue and eject her co-stars is crimped by the inconvenient assassination of Abraham Lincoln during a performance. When the company is suspected of subversion, Keene shows her true colors and helps her castmembers outfox their interrogator, in clumsy, embarrassingly written scenes intended to reflect current anxieties.

A good cast, including Maxwell Caulfield and Kristine Nielsen, resorts to overplaying to add substance to the sketchy material. No amount of hamming, however, could redeem the character of Madame Wu-Chan (Ann Duquesnay), Keene's "Chinese" confidante. The unsurprising revelation of her true identity leads to boringly noble scenes of racial harmonizing that director Lynne Meadow should have clamped down on. Santo Loquasto's unwieldy fake proscenium set is no help to the staging. Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife successfully launched from the same space in 2000; Our Leading Lady, however, is as dead as Lincoln.


SUBSCRIBE TO New York Theater News
SUBSCRIBE TO London Theater News

Yes, Prime Minister contracts its run, while A Chorus Line expands its own.
POWERHOUSE OF THEATRE - After 11 years as the Almeida Theatre's artistic director, Michael Attenborough is stepping down to focus on directing. 

SONGS FROM THE HEART - Once the Tony-Award winning musical is set to hit London in January.

Wine, Fruit, and Gourmet Gift Baskets.
Privacy Notice   |   Front Page
Copyright © All Rights Reserved.