Miami Theater Center opened its production of The Seven Year Itch on February 19, 2015.
Loneliness. Temptation. Lust. Feel the summer heat aggravate the anxiety and desire of one man’s mid-life crisis in this irreverent interpretation of the 1950's stage comedy that inspired the iconic Hollywood film.
Stephanie Ansin directed a cast that included Aaron Glickman, Diana Garle, Betsy Graver, Shira Abergel, Linda Bernhard, Jessica Farr, James Howell, Chaz Mena, and Anardia Burgos.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Playwright George Axelrod offers some insight in The Seven Year Itch, a 1952 Broadway smash that still has plenty to say about a man stepping into the quicksand of a midlife crisis. At Miami Theater Center, director Stephanie Ansin and designer Fernando Calzadilla have done some nipping, tucking and adapting of Axelrod’s script, which famously became a 1955 Billy Wilder movie starring Tom Ewell and an impossibly tempting Marilyn Monroe.
The play, however, stays focused on the actions and interior life of one Richard Sherman (Aaron Glickman), a New York publishing executive charged with marketing steamily packaged paperbacks that sell for 25 cents (remember, it’s the ‘50s). With his wife Helen (Betsy Graver) and daughter Sally (Shira Abergel) away in Cohasset, Mass., for the summer, Dick Sherman is living like a bachelor in the family’s chic apartment — albeit a “bachelor” who has been told not to smoke or drink booze by a wife who says she’ll call every night at 10 to “check in.”
…Glickman adroitly plays an average guy who’s wondering, as Peggy Lee put it, “Is that all there is?” His Sherman is kind of a mess, physically and emotionally, and though he goes where no married man should, Glickman’s amiability, precise comedic tone and sometimes manic energy make the audience hang in through his misadventures.
Graver makes Helen a no-nonsense, glamorous women more than capable of inspiring jealousy in her guilt-ridden hubby. Jessica Farr is a Jessica Rabbit-style bombshell as Miss Morris, Sherman’s secretary. Abergel doubles, this time in a pixie cut and black bustier, as Sherman’s spied-upon neighbor Pat. Anaridia Burgos, playing a might-have-been conquest named Maria, teases Sherman solely in Spanish. As Elaine, an older pal of Helen’s, Linda Bernhard becomes a Ladies Who Lunch seductress.
Composer and sound designer Luciano Stazzone mixes original music with snippets of songs linked to Monroe (Sherman’s ultimate fantasy gal) and even an homage to the Leave It to Beaver theme song. Set, costume and lighting designer Calzadilla has given Sherman a stunning period pad and has dressed the women in a striking array of costumes, though his choices for the attractive Garle don’t always suit her body type.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
We want theater troupes to take chances, bend rules, push boundaries. For years, Miami Theater Center ..has bravely invested its quirky and inventive artistic vision into classics like Three Sisters and Hedda Gabler with admirable if mixed results that reaffirmed its artistic integrity.
But MTC has missed the target so badly in its misbegotten revival of the 1952 sex comedy The Seven Year Itch that you only thing you want to scratch is your head.
…In its day, sixty years ago, playwright George Axelrod constructed what was then meant to be a wry sophisticated satire about everyday men (like those in the theater audience) going middle age crazy by getting lost in sexual daydreams and childishly pursuing dream women before discovering that home sweet home is best.
But more than a half-century later what was once biting social observation is a calcified cliché in television sitcoms and fourth-rate films…
The entire undertaking is not a disaster. Diana Garle is a persuasive, winsome object of Richard’s obsession. Garle and Ansin wisely do not make “The Girl” a Monroe-like sexpot, but simply a gentle, quirky, nubile and slightly dewy 22-year-old woman trying to get her bearings in New York City. Why “The Girl” gives in to Richard’s ministrations is never made credible, but Garle remains one of the production’s strengths.
…why with all the solid actors available… why saddle the very difficult central role on Aaron Glickman (a lovely man, we’re sure) who is either unequal to the role or has been directed to play it with all the comic finesse of Hot Tub Time Machine 2… We never believe Glickman as Richard for ten seconds in a row because he is always giving a performance. To be fair, these roles are very challenging to pull off which is why it took a skilled light comedian of Tom Ewell’s skill set to make it work originally. Richard spends much of the play talking to himself, a technique that is tough to pull off, especially with Glickman slamming every sentence as if he was attacking it.
Among those who hit the right notes are Betsy Graver as the perfect pearls wife. Mena plays a friend who might be a temptation for the wife; Linda Bernhard, Jessica Farr and Anardia Burgos play Richard’s conquests during his fantasies; James Howell is a psychiatrist whose book Richard is shepherding, and Shira Abergal plays Richard’s daughter who does a wild and weird talent show tap dance.
Credit Ansin with skillfully moving her characters around Calzadilla’s evocative set of Richard’s Manhattan apartment and The Girl’s upstairs unit. Ansin also gets much of the right droll tone in Richard’s imaginary life.
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Miami ArtZine:
Director Stephanie Ansin has created a mash-up of both the stage play and the film in a very original, witty and imaginative “The Seven Year Itch” at the Miami Theater Center. It’s a night filled with clever nods to Monroe, the nostalgia of the '50s, and a reverence of sorts to author Axelrod, who also wrote and was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1961 screenplay for Truman Capote’s "Breakfast at Tiffany’s". These are the elements that influence Ansin and her co-adapter Fernando Calzadilla who embrace the time period with some subtle (and some not so subtle) touches that create a supremely unique production.
Glickman's family man is frazzled, frenetic, and bumbling – sometimes channeling a bit of John Belushi. Perfectly cast, he is charged with a number of monologues and alone time on stage, seamlessly captivating the audience and showing a range of emotions. Glickman, the publisher of socialmiami.com, was an actor in Los Angeles and returned to his native Miami a decade ago. This is billed as his South Florida debut.
Garle, who was so wonderful in MTC’s "The Red Thread," plays The Girl, a 22-year-old model who is always avoiding men because they “desperately fall in love” with her. Garle, with Ansin’s direction and Calzadilla’s clothes, is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Yet Garle needs to have a bit more charisma to go up against the over-animated Glickman. Their scenes seem lopsided at times because his energy is so much more amplified against her more relaxed, demure style.
Betsy Graver imbues Helen with just the right amount of June Cleaver; that is until she turns the tables as a would-be killer. Chaz Mena plays Richard’s nemesis Tom McKenzie with an alpha male bravado.
Ansin and her company continue to stretch the boundaries with their adventurous and visionary “reimaginings,” which come off as "from the ground up" original despite being based on already written material. “Seven Year Itch” certainly tickles the funny bone, but it’s more than that – it’s an exercise in taking chances and coming through with flying colors.
The Seven Year Itch plays at Miami Theater Center through March 22, 2015.