The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Inventing Avi (and other theatrical maneuvers)

You hear that? That tumultuous applause? That — rapture? To have a monologue in my first Broadway play greeted with that kind of ovation, I mean. . . me, David Smith, run-of-the-mill boy from Denver, Colorado, suddenly writing the Great American Play about. . . Holocaust deniers? I couldn't believe I did that. Which is funny. Because it turned out that no one else could, either.
—David Smith, Inventing Avi's auhor-narrator.
Inventing Avi
Alix Korey as Judy Siff and Emily Zacharias as Mimi
(Photo: Kim Sharp)
The first of the above quoted fourth wall breaking monologues by the hapless author/narrator David Smith (Stanley Bahorek) pretty much tells you what to expect: a story about how a talented young nobody gets his big break, only to be conned out of his by-line by the ditzy producer he works for and the crafty shenanigans of two ambitious actors (Havilah Brewster and Juri Henley-Cohn) who turn out to be sharks masquerading as friends. David's trajectory takes him from high hopes to hell and. via a twist long a favorite of old-style melodrama scribes. from outsiderdom to insiderdom.

Inventing Avi, my third backstage comedy in a week ( The Royal Family & Circle Mirror Transformation), is a farce that manages its cornucopia of twists and turns without the genre's requisite four doors which works just fine thanks to a cast of fine farceurs, Mark Waldrop's snappy direction and Ray Klausen's fiendishly clever abstract set with its back panels of giant manuscript pages; also Brian Nason's propulsive lighting and Matthew Hemesath witty costumes.

Though propelled by humor that relies more on sure-fire shtick than genuinely fresh wit, the performances and the smartly timed and staged production do tickle the audience's funny bone. To assure that the laughs offset the cornier bits that should have been deleted there's Alix Korey, who can make you laugh without saying a word (even more than usual in a blonde wig courtesy of Daniel Koye), playing one of two show business sisters who've been on the outs with each other for years.

Neither Korey's Judy Siff, a theater producer, or her actress sister Mimi, (another on on the mark performance by Emily Zacharias, who also doubles as Judy and Mimi's mother in several amusing flashbacks), are exactly at the top of their game. Judy has yet to produce a hit, not that she hasn't spent plenty of her never seen financier husband's money on seemingly promising dramas like Electrifying Ethel, about the Rosenberg trials.

Sister Mimi's once successful career is on the decline, with most of her gigs on the order of Dissent : A Musical Evening with Ruth Bader Ginsburg performed for Jewish organizations. Being in this show biz niche hardly pays the rent on her stylish apartment or the salary of her grumpy maid Astrud (a scene stealing performance by Lori Gardner, who also doubles as young Judy). However, it has put Mimi on the board of the Abraham Beigelman Trust which has the wherewithal to fund Jewish creative projects.

It's inevitable that he two sisters will be reunited. The vehicle bringing them together is assistant David's holocaust denial play. But with the never seen Mr. Siff's money suddenly captive to a Ponzi scheme, only the sponsorship of the Beigelman Trust can enable Six Million Jews to leap from page to stage. Since David isn't Jewish, he is persuaded to allow Amy's chameleon actor friend (Juri Henley-Cohn) to become the pretend author, Avi Aviv (yes, as in Tel Aviv). Not surprisingly Judy's cooperation requires her to play the lead. Naturally, invented Avi sets off more dirty tricks and, given that he's a sexy hunk, this includes all manner of hanky-pank.

Can Six Million Jews miraculously succeed, like Springtime for Hitler? Will all these shenanigans leave David forever victimized or somehow a victor? Will blood prove to be thicker than rivalry for the sisters? I'll leave it to you to find out, but rest assured, Waldrop and his actors will see to it that every opportunity for landing a joke will be seized.

Inventing Avi (nd other theatrical maneuvers)
By Robert Cary and Benjamin Feldman
Directed by Mark Waldrop
Cast: Alix Korey (Judy siff), Emily Zacharias (Mimi/Mother) and Stanley Bahorek (David Smith); also Havilah Brewster (Amy/Young Mimi), Lori Gardner (Astrud/Young Judy), and Juri Henley-Cohn (Avi Aviv)
Set design: Ray Klausen
Costume design: Matthew Hemesath
Lighting design: Brian Nason
Sound design: David Margolin Lawson
Wig design: Daniel Koye Stage Manager: Joshua R. Pilote
Running Time: 2 hours, including 1 intermission
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex's June Havoc Theatre 312 West 36th Street 212-868-2055
From 10/02/09; opening 10/14/09; closing 11/01/09
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm; Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm; and Sundays at 2:00pm
Tickets are $45
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer October 14th
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Inventing Avi (nd other theatrical maneuvers)
  • I disagree with the review of Inventing Avi (nd other theatrical maneuvers)
  • The review made me eager to see Inventing Avi (nd other theatrical maneuvers)
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

You can also contact us at Curtainup at Facebook or Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
South Pacific  Revival
South Pacific

In the Heights
In the Heights

Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide


©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from