Gulf View Drive, A CurtainUp Off Broadway review CurtainUp

The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings






Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp Review
Gulf View Drive

How long is she thinking of staying?—May
Mom doesn't tell you what she's thinking. She just does it.—-Raleigh
Nibroc Trilogy-Gulf View Drive
(l-r) Christina Denzinger as Treva, Ruth Nightengale as Mrs. Brummett, Alexandra Geis as May, Greg Steinbruner as Raleigh in Gulf View Drive (Photo: Beth Lincks)
"I never set out to write a trilogy," says playwright Arlene Hutton in the press notes for The Nibroc Trilogy. Her 1999 two-hander, Last Train to Nibroc, premiered at the 78th Street Theatre Lab and told the story of a young couple, May and Raleigh, who met on a train and fell in love. But Hutton found there was a lot more story to tell, and May and Raleigh are now at the center of three plays, now being performed in repertory at — you guessed it — the 78th Street Theatre Lab.

Last Train to Nibroc and its sequel See Rock City have been performed regionally over the years, but Gulf View Drive is making its New York Premiere. Unlike Last Train to Nibroc and See Rock City, which are World War II dramas focusing heavily on the war's effect on the home front, Gulf View Drive takes place years later. The time is 1953 and the focus is on the sometimes claustrophobic life of small town America in the 1950s.

As Gulf View Drive opens, we find Raleigh (Greg Steinbruner) and May (the talented Alexandra Geis, who created the role of May in the original 1999 production) are living something of a dream life in Florida. Raleigh, a sunny and lighthearted type, has not only found success with his novels but seems to have left his epilepsy behind as well. May, the more prim and straitlaced of the pair, is working as a schoolteacher near their small home off the Gulf of Mexico. Trouble comes with the arrival of Raleigh's joyless mother (Ruth Nightengale) for a visit of indeterminate length. It doesn't take long for her to place her stamp of disapproval on just about everything she sees in Florida. With May's mother (Polly Adams) already living with them and Raleigh's pregnant sister Treva (Christina Denzinger) also headed their way, you have one very overcrowded house— and a surefire recipe for tension.

While May's frosty relationship with both her mother-in-law and sister-in-law spark the drama, the big problem is the marital strain between Raleigh and May. As May's frustration mounts, she becomes increasingly harsh and spiteful to Raleigh, who in turn begins to use his jokey mannerisms and cheerful nature as a shield. Steinbruner and Geis handle the gowing conflict well, as do the other three cast members even though they're given less to do. Adams (as May's mother) is just as affable and kind as Nightengale is sour and cold. Denzinger shows Treva fully able to handle a nasty husband and unwanted pregnancy, as long as she can watch her soap operas.

What's apparent throughout is that these characters feel like real people and it's easy to see why Hutton (and audiences) wanted to continue to follow their stories. Hutton has created genuine, likeable people who face their life dramas with thoughtfulness and candor. And while these are ordinary people, their problems are interesting and part of the period. May's fight against segregation in her school, and Raleigh's McCarthy-supporting friends, feel very grounded in 1953. But it's the personal and timeless problems of having to learn to say no to your family and to communicate yourself to your spouse are what give the play its real power.

Gulf View Drive is perhaps a little softer than it needs to be. The Hutton's characters are more wholesome and less jaded than so many encountered these days, which is refreshing. Because these are such good people deep down so that one never doubt that they will all eventually do the right thing and that a happy ending will follow, this lowers the dramatic stakes a bit. Nevertheless, the path to get to that happy ending is always involving and often surprising. In short, Gulf View Drive is not only a well-constructed play, but also a solid finish to what has become a very successful and endearing trilogy.

Last Train to Nibroc, original 1999 production, reviewed by Elyse Sommer
See Rock City in the Berkshires, reviewed by Elyse Sommer
The Nibroc Trilogy in Los Angeles, reviewed by Laura Hitchcock

Playwright: Arlene Hutton
Directed by Eric Nightengale
Cast: Polly Adams (Mrs. Gill), Christina Denzinger (Treva), Alexandra Geis (May), Ruth Nightengale (Mrs. Brummett), Greg Steinbruner (Raleigh)
Set Design: Bradford Olson
Costume Design: Shelley Norton
Lighting Design: Ji-Youn Chang and Gina Scherr
Sound Design: Eric Nightentale

Running time: Gulf View Drive: 2 hours, without an intermission; See Rock City: 90 minutes without an intermission; Last Train to Nibroc: 85 minutes without an intermission
78th Street Theatre Lab, 236 West 78th Street, 212-352-3101
From 3/17/07 to 4/29/07; opening 4/1/07
Performed in repertory with Last Train to Nibroc and See Rock City, Wednesdays-Fridays @ 8pm; Saturdays @ 4:30 and 8pm; Sundays @ 3 and 7 pm; with additional 2pm performance on Saturday, April 21 and Saturday, April 28; Performances on Sunday, April 15 will be at 1, 4 and 7 pm. A more detailed schedule is available at
Tickets: $32
Reviewed by Julia Furay based on March 29th performance
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.

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide

The Broadway Theatre Archive>


©Copyright 2007, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from