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A CurtainUp Review

Hurray For Iceboy
By Nicole Bergot

Strange friends, everybody's got 'em/Steadfast in a spot, they love you for what you're not --Vera Vimm

One of the more memorable moments in Hooray for Iceboy is a musical number about "strange friends, everybody's gott'em". The catchy tune is indicative of Iceboy's cast of eccentrics, ranging from a bearded nun and bitchy dancer A and B, to the sweet primitive boy derived from a block of ice and the sinister scientist who wants to exploit him. Put these odd balls together in a lab/workshop environment for three months and the outcome is Hooray for Iceboy written and performed by the Adobe Theatre Company.

The fun begins with the discovery of a prehistoric human locked away in a block of ice. This freeze dried treasure spurs a battle between the lonely 1940's stage actress, Vera Vimm (Erin Quinn Purcell giving a sharp portrayal of the brooding loveliness of a troubled diva fascinated with her own suffering), and the evil Dr. Hipley - one of several roles played by the versatile Vin Knight.

Both Vera and Hipley want the iced adolescent. The doctor sees the block of ice as no more than an experimental test field to further science and, more importantly, his own celebrity. For Ms. Vimm, the boy in the ice becomes the object of her desperate longing for companionship, a little prehistoric iceboy to call her own.

At the auction where Iceboy is the main attraction, Vera offers the highest bid and takes him home. The ice melts and Iceboy emerges as a sweet, awkward prehistoric boy, still wet, or rather frosty, behind the ears. Frank Ensenberger's Iceboy radiates an endearing quality despite indecipherable grunts and caricatured caveman stunts.

Vera Vimm enthusiastically takes on her role as Iceboy's guardian and raises him in her own image. In one particularly funny scene she instructs him on the more important points of life and before we know it Iceboy is tap-dancing and spouting forth such impressive words as naugahide and prawn. His evolution into a real boy with charm and theatrical talent is met with wild enthusiasm by everyone - except Vera Vimm who cannot bear to be outdone by anyone. But Iceboy emerges as a theatrical darling nevertheless in sharp contrast to Vera's decline into a washed up has been. The pinnacle of the relationship meltdown comes in an All About Eve twist when Vera's emotional collapse keeps her from going on stage to perform. Iceboy steps in and the audience goes wild. When Vera is outraged at hearing the news, Iceboy cries "Why did you bring me back to life if you won't let me live?"

The silliness continues allowing nearly everyone in the cast a chance to show off their versatility in multiple roles. Arthur Aulisi does a particularly admirable job of wearing many hats: Frankenstein; Ms. Vimm's housekeeper, the menacing Archbishop Splashes; an annoying reporter; and Freddy the dance captain.

The appealing set design by Matthew Maraffi accommodates frantic role changes by putting a church pew and the block of ice on wheels. The cast members are obviously enjoying themselves itself and they seem to be acting as though in an ironic and detached state of self-awareness, well aware of the absurdity they are participating in on stage. This is especially apparent in two female roles played by men, Arthur Halpern and David Slivken, who do nothing to make the cross gender leap at all believable (for example, a nun wears a full beard). That of course, is part of the joke and this lack of commitment to reality may remind one of a Carol Burnett skit where Harvey Korman tries desperately to keep from breaking character and laughing aloud while on stage.

The absurdness found on this stage certainly makes for a fun night of live theater, all for the price of a movie ticket -- and no movie ticket is likely to be an ice cubes chocolate as is the case with the Adobe Company! On the other hand, like that edible ticket, Hurray For Iceboy is hardly a substantial theatrical meal.

Collaborative effort of the Adobe Theatre Company
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish
Cast: Frank Ensenberger as Iceboy; with Arthur Aulisi, Arthur Halpern, Vin Knight, Erin Quinn Purcell, David Slivken
Set Design: Matthew Maraffi
Lighting Design: Michael Gottlieb
Costume Design: Meganne George
Sound Design:Jill B.C. Du Boff Composer/lyricist: Michael Garin
Choreography: Mary Anne Anderson and Erin Quinn Purcell
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes without intermission
Ohio Theatre 66 Wooster St. (Spring/Broome) 212/279-4200
3/29/01-4/21/01; opening 4/09/01. Performances: Wed - Sat, 8 pm. -- $12.

Reviewed by Nicole Bergot based on March 31 performance

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