Sunday, January 9, 2011

GableStage: A Round Heeled Woman (5 reviews)

The GableStage production of Jane Prowse's A Round Heeled Woman went into previews on December 30, 2010, and opened on January 8, 2011.
A retired school teacher who has not had sex in 30 years sets out to remedy the situation by placing an ad in the personals in the New York Review of Books. Her sexual adventures and the resulting emotional entanglements are both comic and touching. This is the true story of a woman who decides there is still time to pursue passion with a vengeance.
Jane Prowse directed a cast that included Sharon Gless, Antonio Amadeo, Steve Anthony, Howard Elfman, Kim Ostrenko, and Laura Turnbull.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
A Round-Heeled Woman, the memoir-inspired play starring a radiant Sharon Gless, is a sexy, funny, touching celebration of one mature woman's journey from unintended celibacy to a recharged sex life.

Yet on a deeper level, director-playwright Jane Prowse's script is about so much more: facing fears, taking chances, admitting mistakes, seeking forgiveness. Above all, the play is an ode to reclaimed joy.
Gless, the television veteran so very familiar from Cagney & Lacey, Queer as Folk and Burn Notice, proves as fearless as the woman she portrays. Whether changing clothes in full-on stage light, getting busy with the actors who play Jane's varied lovers or delivering a When Harry Met Sally-level orgasm, Gless goes all out. In both scenes that work well and scenes that still need work, the star is a compelling presence, both brave and vulnerable.
Gless' five fellow cast members, South Florida actors all, each play multiple roles. That's a challenge for the performers, who must slip quickly from one persona to the next, and for costume designer Ellis Tillman, whose deft work helps differentiate and define characters from different eras... All of those actors deliver what's asked of them, but the one who truly shines is Antonio Amadeo. Most memorably, he plays Jane's estranged son (both as an angry teen and a changed man) and Graham, an intellectually compatible and ultimately irresistible guy half her age. The play's sweetest, most dramatic moments belong to Gless and Amadeo.
...thanks to an inspiring true story and the charismatic star telling it, A Round-Heeled Woman is clearly a play with a future. You might not have as good a time watching it as Juska did living it -- but you'll come close.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
As droll and insightful as the GableStage production of A Round-Heeled Woman is on its own merits, Sharon Gless brings a surprising dimension to the 66-year-old English teacher who
advertises for sex in the New York Review of Books... But what Gless
exposes with the briefest glance of fear or a quaver at the end of a
sentence is vulnerability. We can see her scraping away protective
barriers so that she can experience life, whether it be pain or joy.
Under Prowse’s direction, Gless’ Juska is a recognizable neighbor as terrified as any of us would be hazarding our self-image, self-worth and self-respect to search for human connections.  And because of that, Gless and Prowse win us over from the opening scene...
She’s supported by a strong troupe of local actors filling numerous parts... Best of all, Antonio Amadeo provides a gallery of characters ranging from Juska’s troubled son to a suitor half her age.
At its heart, this is not simply a play about society’s myopia about sex after sixty. It’s a fable about jettisoning your fear and going after the marrow of life.
Roger Martin reviewed for
There's a lot to laugh at in this show but there's also frustration, sadness and regret. A Round-Heeled Woman was written for the stage and directed by Jane Prowse and she moves the piece quickly through its many scenes.

It's not a perfect show, but as a star vehicle for Sharon Gless it works well. Amadeo, Stephen G. Anthony, Howard Elfman, Kim Ostrenko and Laura Turnbull, support in their various incarnations, some better than others, but strangely uncomplimentary dresses on Ostrenko and Turnbull distract in their several scenes as Jane's friends. And when I grow up I want to be Howard Elfman's dirty old man.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Supporting actors Howard Elfman, Steven G. Anthony, Laura Turnbull, Kim Ostrenko and Antonio Amadeo are certainly deserving of acknowledgement for rapid changes in costumes and accents. Not all of the characters are achieved with the same amount of skill, however, and one particular dance sequence featuring Antonio Amadeo comes off as kind of creepy. His leer is both over-the-top lurid and comic—never committing to either one. He redeems himself with a warm portrayal of Graham, however.
A Round-Heeled Woman is a production blessed by the right author, the right director and the right actress. Calling it luck would be incredibly naïve. Gless found a well-written book with which she connected, and found the creative team to make her (and Juska's) vision a reality on stage. As Jane she never leaves stage, but then we never really want her to leave... Her stand-out performance is one of the best seen in south Florida for some time.

Chris Joseph wrote an interminable amount of plot exposition, but eventually got around to reviewing for the Miami New Times:
Ms. Gless owned the stage with a humorous and earnest performance as the irrepressible Jane. She was equal parts innocent and sexually adventursome, and her genuine vulnerability and underlying heartache pulled us in as the coital odyssey unfolded. We rooted for her not only to have a hell of a time in the sack, but also to find what she was looking for. But mostly, we rooted for her to have a hell of a time in the sack.
Then Mr. Joseph starts chewing his foot:
...small theaters can be vulnerable to occasional hiccups such as bad lighting or stagehands seen and heard between scenes.
First, this isn't determined by the size of the theatre, but rather the professionalism.  Second, he doesn't offer specific cases to back his point.  I don't know what plays he's been seeing, or what he means by "small theatre," but the good theatre rarely have this problem. And finally, unless he's had this problem -often- at this theatre, it has no relevance in this review.  This is the kind of assinine remark you get from a reporter who is "telling the story of seeing a play" instead of a professional reviewer writing a critique of the play.
The production of A Round-Heeled Woman was flawless, never allowing audience members to glimpse ropes and pulleys. The direction, lighting, and musical score were impeccable. Characters appeared and disappeared throughout the stage and seized the emotion of the moment or the timing of a comical bit with precision.
Antonio Amadeo, who plays a dance teacher, John Ball, and Jane's troubled son, Andy, stood out. Amadeo's characters ranged from outrageous to tragic, and he pulled it off brilliantly with a versatile performance.
Stephen G. Anthony likewise lost himself in character...  And Howard Elfman was both likeable and loathsome...
Most local acting ensembles feature actors who convey every emotion with the same squint and arched brow. The cast of Round-Heeled, however, is not one of those ensembles.
And here we go again with the kind of posturing editorializing that is the hallmark of the amateur. "Most local acting ensembles"  do this? Really?  Name them.  I want theatres, productions, and actors' names.  If you can't demonstrate it to be true, or even mildly accurate, it has no business in the review.  Joseph did the same thing earlier, commenting about technical proficiency.  Is his remark accurate?  We can't know without specific cases, and in any case, is it relevant to a review of this play?  No, it is not.  He is supposed to be reviewing this play. 

The writing shows promise, but Mr. Joseph needs to take a course in reviewing theater.

A Round-Heeled Woman starring Sharon Gless plays at GableStage through January 30, 2011.


  1. See the play's official website at and facebook page at

  2. Gee, I wonder who will win Best Actress at the Carbonell Awards?