The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review
The Audience

Yes, you may fear me. Yes, you may loathe me,
The monster with a hundred ears and eyes.
Yet you must love me.
Your monster, your baby,
Born the moment when the curtains rise.
I live because of you,
And live is what I do

--- from Michael John LaChiusa's "Two Joins Three" the ensemble song that summarizes the love-hate relationship between audience and show creator.
The Cast of  The Audience
The Cast of The Audience (Photo: Carol Rosegg)
I don't usually talk about show's ticket price before talking about the show itself. But The Audience is not your typical off-off-Broadway launch. With 47 actors on stage plus 19 playwrights and 26 composers and lyricists collaborating on the separate but connected story lines and original songs, the $19 admission cost deserves to be mentioned right up front.

Mounting a new show on this grand a scale in a theater that seats an audience that's not much larger than the cast might strike some as a case of tilting at windmills but then the Transport Group's artistic director Jack Cummings III is not someone afraid to pursue risky projects. His vision for marrying drama and music and his penchant for large scale productions has attracted top of the line theater people eager to help him realize his concepts -- not to mention, viewers, including this writer, who've come to appreciate the Transport's transporting spirit of adventure.

The concept dreamed up by Cummings (with developmental assists from Adam Bock, Mark Campbell and David Pittu) is to explore the relationship between those who create a musical and the audience that determines whether it will have a life through a night at Broadway musical. Set designer John Story, a Transport regular, has therefore transformed the Connelly Theater's generously proportioned stage into a theater within the theater so that the ticket buying audiences finds itself face to face with five rows of red deco theater seats donated by a real Broadway Theater, the Palace. Since it wouldn't be a theater without one, there's also an aisle from which a black and white clad usher (Tina Johnson as the main usher Teddie; also Monica Russell) can direct the the arriving mock audience until all the seats are filled.

The main conceit is to focus not on the musical that has brought people to the theater, but on the audience -- which on this evening includes the playwright (Jack Donahue) who's still reeling from a round of negative reviews which have led to an early closing notice. This assemblage of almost four dozen people to represent a typical Broadway audience, serves as the multi-plot springboard. We (the audience watching the pretend audience) become privy to their inner thoughts and whispered conversations which are interspersed with songs.

All in all, it's exhilarating to see so much talent gathered on stage and the concept makes for an entertaining and original theatrical outing with lots of fun insider show biz references. Naturally, the behavior we witness is more often than not appalling so that it's small wonder that the playwright finally explodes. Just as naturally, a piece involving such a large talent pool and so many story lines is bound to have some characters and songs that stand out, while others miss the mark.

If there was an exit poll, the vote for the funniest performances and dialogue would most likely go to John Braden, Marta Curro, Mary Ellen Anthony and Tracy Rosten who are hilarious as the know-it-all Four Old Jews. Those who like darker, more serious stories, will cast their vote for the dysfunctional Out-of-Town Parents and Their Manhattan Daughter. Choosing the best singing solo is a tossup between daughter Rosemary Loar's searing "This Thing That Is Happening." and 11-year-old Eamon Foley's delightful rendition of " I Like What I See." with its smart pre-teen view of the show ("The family on stage is like us/except they think out loud and sing/they yell and kick and scream and cuss/they don't hold back on anything/ I wanna be like them. . .").

It's not easy to create a sense of movement in a show which has the cast sitting in rows most of the time. R. Lee Kennedy's expert lighting go a long way towards meeting this challenge. All those seats also don't leave much room for dancing but then this is a dialogue rather than a dance driven musical. That said, there is Gerry McIntyre's show stopping "Little White Lies." which is a production number of sorts thanks to an amusing Japanese backup chorus (Yuka Takara, Mary Ann Hu, Mika Saburi).

In its attempt to squeeze so many protraits into one canvas, The Audience ends up being too much of a good thing. The hour and 45 minutes without intermission would play much better if trimmed down to 85 or 90 minutes. While Rita Gardner, the original girl in The Fantasticks is delightful as a Westchester widow, we could do with less business about her husband's ashes to commemorate their anniversary celebrations. There are other sketches, especially those involving the lesser musical numbers, that would benefit from trimming. Another disappointment is that several of the outstanding musical theater performers like Dee Hoty and Donna Lynne Champlin (one of the stars of Transport's superb 2004 revival of First Lady Suite) don't get to sing except as part of the company numbers. Speaking of the full cast pieces, Michael John Lachiusa, whose music and lyrics framed Transport's Requiem for William, aptly summarizes the show's theme with his "Two Joins Three."

The cast size and occasional work-in-progress feel of The Audience make a commercial transfer or even other off-Broadway or regional productions unlikely. Unless there's an extension or move to another off-off-Broadway theater able to accommodate the over-sized cast, anyone interested in a fresh approach to musical theater would be well advised to reserve a seat. The performance I attended had an overflow crowd, with a few folding chairs at the side of the orchestra section stretching the 99-seat capacity to its limits. And in fairness to that real audience, their behavior, unlike that of the mock audience, was quite exemplary right to the appreciative and well deserved applause.

Our Town
Requiem for William
First Lady Suite

Conceived and directed by Jack Cummings III and developed with Adam Bock
Book, music, and lyrics: See Musical Numbers and List of Stories
For playwright and actor details see List of Stories/ Characters/Actors after the Musical Numbers.
Set Design: John Story .
Costume Design: Kathryn Rohe
Lighting Design: R. Lee Kennedy
Musical Supervisor: Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Musical Director: Barbara Anselmi
Orchestrations: Alden Terry
Musicians: Greg Landis & Joe Choroszewski (percussions), Marc Schled (bass), Jeff Nichols (reed)
Running time: 1 hour and 45 Minutes, without intermission.
Transport group at Connelly Theatre, 220 East 4 Street (Avenues bA & B), 212) 352-3101.
From 3/31/05 to 4/23/05; opening 4/10/05
Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm
Tickets: $19
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on April 6th press performance

Musical Numbers
  • Why Do I Go To The Theatre? . music by Steve Marzullo, lyrics by Mark CampbeII/ entire cast
  • A Show Going On. music by Jenny Giering, lyrics by Mark Campbell Jeremy
  • Best Friends . music and lyrics by Ellen Weiss/ Justine, Rory, and Alison
  • 1 Like What I See . music by Tom Kochan, lyrics by Cheryl Stern/ Carson
  • The Secretary Song . music and lyrics by Nancy Shayne/ Ruth, Maria, and Colleen
  • Notice Me . music by Tom Kochan, lyrics by Cheryl Stern/ Teddie
  • 1 Think . music and lyrics by Jeff Blumenkrantz/ Rosie
  • All of the Extra . music by Steven M. Alper, lyrics by Sarah Knapp/ Sarah
  • Little White Lies . music by Lewis Flinn, lyrics by Brian Crawley/ Cooper
  • This Thing That Is Happening . music and lyrics by Nancy Shayne/Marcy
  • Two Joins Three . music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa/ entire cast


THE USHERS by Cheryl Stern. TEDDIE - Tina Johnson; ELAINA - Monica Russell

THE WRITER by Cheryl Stern. JEREMY - Jack Donahue

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN YUPPIES by Keith Byron Kirk. COOPER - Gerry Mclntyre; JEANNE - Thursday Farrat

THE JAPANESE WOMEN by Adam Bock. HOSHI - Yuka Makara, MACHIKO - MaryAnn Hu, NAOKO - Mika Saburi

FOUR OLD JEWS by Lee Tannen. MURRAY - John Braden, LUCILLE - Marta Curro,DORIS - Mary Ellen Ashley, SYLVIA - Tracy Rosten


THE OUT-OF-TOWN FAMILY by Yvonne Adrian. RICHARD - Matt Nowosielksi, AVA -Kim Lindsay, KYLIE - Nicole Bocchi, CARSON - Eamon Foley

THE FIRST DATE COUPLE by John Cariani. STAN - James Weber PENNY - Donna Lynne Champlin

THE TEENAGE GIRLS: JUSTINE by Jennifer Gibs. Justine - Jaime Rosenstein, RORY - Katie Scharf, ALISON - Cassandra Kubinski

THE UPPER WEST SIDE COUPLE AND THEIR SON by Michele Lowe. HENRY - Hemdon Lackey RUTH - Leslie Alexander ROANE - Sean MacLaughlin

THE LADIES FROM WESTCHESTER ROSIE by James Hindman. ROSIE- Rita Gardner, MADDY - Sondra Lee

THE OLDER GAY COUPLE by David Simpatico. NED - Craig Wells, SAM - Robert DuSold

THE YOUNGER GAY COUPLE by James Hindman. JEFF - Jonathan Hammond, ANDREW - Matt Farnsworth

THE WANNABE ACTRESSES by Ellie Devers. JENNIFER - Jenni Frost, SHELLY - Becca Ayers

THE OBSESSED FANS by David Pittu. FREDDY - Joanna Parson, CAITLIN - Michele Ragusa, DENNIS - Mark Aldrich

THE BROTHER AND THE SISTER by Joe Cailrco ANDREW - John Wellmann, SARAH - Robyn Hussa

THE STATEN ISLAND SECRETARIES by Daphne Greaves. MARIA - Natalie Toro, RUTH - Celia Tackaberry, COLLEEN - Shannon Polly


DOCTOR ON THE CELL PHONE by Vincent G. PaJumbo. DR. SPiRADAKIS - Dean Alai
Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.

Tales From Shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2005, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from