Shows for Days: Patti LuPone and Michael Urie in Fond Look at Community Theater

Shows For Days is a new play by Douglas Carter Beane, directed by Jerry Zaks. with a six-member cast including Patti LuPone and Michael Urie, based on the Beane’s fond memories of his beginnings in the theater.

Set in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1973, 14-year-old Car (Urie) joins his the Prometheus Theatre, the local community theater led by Irene (LuPone), who is director, designer and diva of all the productions.

Jonathan Mandell, DC Theatre Scene: The main problem with Shows for Days is not the ending, nor the acting – the mighty LuPone and the magical Urie make up for uneven performances from the rest of the cast. It is not the observations about theatre, which are a mix of insight, bon mots and platitudes. Nor is it the humor, which sometimes works, and sometimes lands with a thud….No, the main problem..s that it is a late and not particularly fresh entry in a genre that ranges from A Chorus Line to Gypsy to Six Characters in Search of an Author

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety on Shows for Days Another play about the coming of age of an artistically inclined boy? Bor-ring. Douglas Carter Beane tries to minimize the ho-hum factor in “Shows for Days,” his own entry into that overworked sub-genre, by setting this nostalgic play in a 1970s community theater troupe ruled by a tyrannical but venerated diva played (to the hilt) by Patti Lupone. Shrewd move, but the scribe neglects to fortify his spirited star and the boychick apprentice played (sweetly) by Michael Urie with a lucid plot, a coherent structure or even believable supporting roles.

Ben Brantley, New York Times: “Shows for Days” wants to be both harshly realistic and charmingly sentimental. And these disparate sides never entirely connect….as written by Mr. Beane and as played by Ms. LuPone, Irene has a bona fide complexity that holds the attention and makes you wish that she existed in a more confident play.

Linda Winer, Newsday: How happily one indulges the messy parts, and the over-the-top effeminate eccentricities, and the anachronistic improbabilities may well be determined by a soft spot for the genre and a few other acquired tastes….Beane, whose “The Nance” explored oppressed gay life amid burlesque in 1930s New York, toys with some serious issues — including homophobia, blackmail and the pressure to do commercial hits. But, clearly, his heart is with his goofy streak here.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:A funny but frustratingly scattershot memoir…this paean to amateur theater as a life-altering career starter and a nurturing haven for outsiders needs more definition.

Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press:  quirky coming-of-age comedy… Lupone grandly tosses off one-liners as she sweeps on and off stage, draped in elegant costumes.

Adam Feldman, Time Out NY:  the uneven cast of six often seems to be rushing; important plot beats about company finances and local politics are blurry and confusing…Diverting and touching as it often is, there’s not much meat in this pottage.

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: It’s surprisingly easy to buy Urie as a teenager, and a treat to see him reunited with LuPone, who appeared as his mother on “Ugly Betty.” …I went in expecting a comedy, but by the second act the story swerves into dark drama more on a par with “The Nance.” 

Matt Windman, AM New York:  unoriginal and self-indulgent…a rambling, undeveloped, sentimental mess…LuPone essentially takes over the production with her hammy, scenery-chewing theatrics

Shows For Days
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

Cast List:
Jordan Dean
Patti LuPone
Dale Soules
Michael Urie
Lance Coadie Williams
Zoë Winters
Production Credits:
Jerry Zaks (director)
John Lee Beatty (scenic design)
William Ivey Long (costume design)
Natasha Katz (lighting design)
Leon Rothenberg (sound design)

Other Credits:
Written by: Douglas Carter Beane

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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