The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings





Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
Writing for us
A CurtainUp Review
Dr. Sex

Sex between a man and a woman can be wonderful--provided you get between the right man and the right woman.--- Woody Allen

Jennifer Simard & Brian Noonan in Dr. Sex.
Jennifer Simard & Brian Noonan in Dr. Sex.
(Photo: Carol Rosegg )
A love triangle and other sexual relationships form the geometry of this chipper musical comedy spanning two decades (1930's-40's) in the life of Alfred Kinsey. Founder of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University and author of the eponymous sex studies, Kinsey applies a scientific method of gathering a large body of individuals' sex information (through interviews). His research is impressive-- even for a culture that loves to count--but its Kinsey's own sexual biography that shapes the plot.

Two decades of any man's life is an unwieldy affair for the stage, but with rousing song and dance and a first rate cast, this well balanced production--dare I say it?--pulls it off. Not surprisingly, there is an abundance of puns and other false wit ("we were right in the middle of coitus when you interrupted us"), but never a four letter word (the Latin ones are longer) or even a glimpse of R-rated nudity.

The basic charm of Larry Bortniker's music keeps many feet tapping in the audience while achieving the objective of establishing and developing characters through individual songs. The sweet and innocent early melodies evolve into swing and be-bop evoking the growing sophistication of the era and the characters. The lyrics keep pace to a point, but generally do not shed light on the inner motives, especially of Kinsey (played winsomely by Brian Noonan) who remains child-like in his pleasure seeking principles.

Losing his virginity (as a college professor of zoology) and marrying his sexually aggressive student Clara (Jennifer Simard) is the crossing of a Rubicon that leads Kinsey into a pre-me generation orgy of indulgence. The student-teacher seduction scene takes place during an early morning bug hunt, after which Kinsey sings: "I thought that love was incognito/until it bit me like a swamp mosquito."

Later, while fortuitously teaching a life preparation course on matrimony, Kinsey researches and finds a paucity of scientific, non-judgmental literature regarding human sexual behavior. Documenting this taboo subject, he realizes, is his mission in life, singing, "What people really/do when the lights/are low,/I need to know….Collectively and singly,/what makes people/moist and tingly?"

As if discovering that two plus two equals five, Kinsey zestfully throws himself into all manner of sexual experimentation--with and without Clara ("Swingin' for science/you make a lot of wonderful friends"). Promiscuity cheapens Kinsey's matrimonial love, but it inflames his scientific curiosity. Sadly, for Clara, the experiments are ultimately a betrayal and a leakage of identity, as she turns to her husband's own hand picked stand-in: the young, virile, accommodating lab assistant, Wally (Christopher Corts).

At the height of his escapades, Kinsey, with his eraser head haircut and black framed glasses, finds himself in a private Chicago sex club where anything goes. Despite the scanty set design, Mark Esposito's jaunty choreography and the rollicking jazz licks of "Pharaoh's Tomb" evoke the sordidness and absurdity of the subterranean sex culture.

"We are recorders of facts, not judges of the behavior we describe" intones Kinsey, as if pleading not to be judged after his first Kinsey Report is published. Even with the backing of the Rockefeller foundation and the imprimatur of Indiana University, he fears that history will footnote him as the Elmer Gantry of boom chica boom. But aside from neglecting his wife (and his vows), Kinsey is not judged for his sexual predilections but lauded for his boy-scout earnestness in building a fire of the flesh. Instead, it is the hypocritical college dean who tries to terminate Kinsey's employment who is exposed and humiliated for being unusually active.

Only when sex has died out between Kinsey and his wife do they seem capable of loving each other. In the showstopper that qualifies Simard as a Broadway diva, Clara sings the impassioned "The Docotor's Wife" with both comic and tragic overtones. Simard captures a rare poignant moment while singing the desperate housewife blues (from a motel room somewhere in America, no less.)

After more than a decade, the triangle folds as Wally bows out in a quest for a family of his own. As if all the wild oats have been sown, Kinsey and his wife reconcile themselves to a more traditional marriage. It seems like a rather flaccid conclusion, but when all the double entendres are used up, the curtain must fall.

Book: Larry Bortniker & Sally Deering
Music and Lyrics: Larry Bortniker
Choreophraphy: Mark Esposito
Director: No directing credit listed
Cast: Christopher Corts (Wally), Brian Noonan (Alfred Kinsey), Jennifer Simard (Clara Kinsey), Jared Bradshaw, Linda Cameron, David Edwards, Christy Faber, Colleen Hawks, Benjie Randall (The Kinsey Players/Students)
Set Design: Rob Bissinger
Costume Design: John Carver Sullivan
Lighting Design: Richard Winkler
Sound Design: Michael Ward and Tony Smolenski IV
Orchestrations: Larry Hocman, David Siegel, Ned Ginsburg
Conductor: Alan Bukowiecki
Dance Music Arrangements: Sam Davis
Running time: 2 hours including one intermission.
Signature at Peter Norton Space 555 West 42nd St. 212-279-4200 ,
From 8/26/05 to 10/30/05; opening 9/20/05.
Monday, Wednesday through Friday 8pm
Tickets: $70
Reviewed by Eric Beckson based on September 19th performance
To an early grave 10/09/05 after just 45 regular performances and 24 previews
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • 1,2,3,4,5,6/Alfred and Company
  • Rah, Rah, Rah, Rah/Students
  • I'm in Love With My Zoology Professor/Clara
  • Here in a Bog/Alfred and Clara
  • Gall Wasp Wedding/Company
  • Honeymoon Dance/Company
  • The Call of the Wild/Alfred, Wally, Jack, George
  • Angelface/Alfred, Wally, Clara
  • Dr. Sex/Alfred and Students
  • What People Really Do When the Lights Are Low/Alfred, Clara, Wally
  • Pharaoh's Tomb/Company
Act Two
    • Swingin' for Science/Alfred, Clara, Wally, Company<
    • John D. Rockefeller/Company
    • They'll Tell You Everything/Alfred, Wally, Company
    • The Doctor's Wife/Clara
    • A Simple Rotational System/Company
    • I'm Still in Love With My Zoology Professor/Clara
    • That Dirty Book/Company
    • Kinsey in the Eleventh Hour/Alfred and Company
  • 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 our editor.
    Click image to buy.
    Go here for details and larger image.

    The Broadway Theatre Archive


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