“Lost and Found” is a wonderful collaboration between two talented individuals in show business: Steven Shaw and Joan Darling. This is a one man play about the fascinating life of Steven Shaw, who is both writer and performer. He comes across as a Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie type character, casually relating a life well lived. The show is tagged as a guilt trip through show biz, but it’s really the audience that gets the guilty pleasure of peering into Shaw’s singularly amazing career and life journey. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and tried to make it as an actor as a young man, but was unsuccessful. By hustling and nibbling at the edges, he was able to procure a nine year job as property manager for the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theatre, under the auspices of the iconic Joe Papp. After that, followed a 20 year gig as stage manager on Broadway, the Great White Way. Finally, while in his 60’s, he was able to quench his acting desire and landed roles in over 60 film and TV episodes. Yet, his life was rife with pain and tragedy. His sister committed suicide by turning on an oven in a narrow space, and his parents were alcoholics in true Irish fashion. He was also molested by a character actor along the way, but maintained his tough attitude, believing these things would only make him stronger. Oh, and not long after, he married and had three kids, and not long after, his wife said “it’s over,” so he moved on. A true story of note was his working with George C. Scott in Sly Fox on Broadway. As dumb luck would have it, flu decimated the ranks of understudies, so it turned out that he, the stage manager would have to fill in for Scott himself. It was a play directed by Mike Nichols, and in true comedy of the absurd tradition, he ordered the crew to moon the audience, and did so as well! Shaw’s droll and casual delivery belies the extremely bumpy road he traversed. The production is another example of the fabulous Theatre 40 and their consistent high standards. Joan Darling has achieved high renown as a director, and her direction here is understated but powerful.
Tnere is a great choice of songs that accompany the action and monologue, such as “Let the Sun Shine,” from Hair, which was among the many famous musicals and shows that Shaw was proud to be a part of. The starkness of the set, which consists of a microphone stand and a chair, (upon which the actor rarely sits), show that when you have a performer as wry and poetically conversant as Shaw, then that famous Hollywood expression applies here: ‘less is more.’ His amazing ease of being in the spotlight as well as his repartee with the audience is quite natural and admirable in one.
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