In the timeless, funny comedy, “Isn’t it Romantic,” by Wendy Wasserstein, and directed by Stan Zimmerman, two uncommon women, among others, Janie Blumberg (Lucy DeVito) and Harriet Cornwall (Andrea Bowen), set out to prove the unpopular premise of their time that young women can make it on their own, independent of a wealthy husband, despite the odds.
As Andrew Fromer, assistant artistic director, stated at show’s start, “the depth of critical thinking, passion, and insight that Wendy Wasserstein gives to her stories and characters in moments of fear, guilt, and love, celebrate her remarkable,extraordinary voice and legacy.”
The two women share their true to life stories and lessons in love, life, friendship, and career, as they relive their adventures in the urban dog eat dog jungle that is New York City. One of the many morals of this story, is, unlike Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan, can a girl really have it all? Zimmerman reminds the audience of the ever enduring dilemma of living alone or cohabiting/marrying; ordering out or cooking; and the fairytale dreams of living happy ever after, holding hands at fifty. Some of the most memorable scenes and comic gimmicks are the repetitive answering phone messages left for Janie, from a variety of people in her life, mostly from her adoring overprotective parents, the hilarious and endearing Ken Lerner and Mindy Sterling. Amidst takeout food, self doubt, self respect, Janie shares many a cherished moment with her parents, Sterling as Tasha Blumberg, the caricature of a doting Jewish mother, clad in a tye dye dance leotard; and Lerner (Simon
Blumberg), proud patriarch and family provider). Wasserstein’s spirit and uncanny comedic genius imbues the intimate space and stage of Jewish Women’s Theatre at the Braid, as the play is performed. Over and over, Janie and Harriet pursue the perennial question of marriage versus career, or can the two entities intertwine? Other standout performances include Jon Sprik, as taxi driver/ potential love interest Vlad; and business executive/ mom of Harriet, Lillian Cornwall (Amanda Bearse), with characters and mannerisms larger than life. Janie’s romantic courting scenes with devoted Jewish doctor Marty (Raviv Ullman), a Jewish parent’s dream, lead the audience on to a perfect match, while Harriet’s boyfriend/potential fiancée Paul (Danny Gomez) is a playboy/womanizer who can’t commit. We see shades of Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Philip Roth, sketch after sketch, as these seemingly insecure women encounter relationships, leaving them feeling stronger, empowered, and liberated, each in their own way. In a symbolic final scene, Janie tells her parents to “take back the mink,” while she takes control of her life as a grown up and moves forward. Under Zimmerman’s superb direction, these amusing, uber-talented actors bring to the stage a cast of colorful characters and interactions, a truly delightful Sunday matinee, hands down.