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In the Wings

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Another Jewish mother in mink! Another "you'll be a star but I won't" story. Maybe there's some comic freshness left in these stereotypes, but Stewart F. Lane, author of "In the Wings," hasn't found it. He could be forgiven if the comedy at the Promenade Theatre had some big laughs but, alas, 'twas not to be.

Sure, you smile a few times, mostly when Marilyn Sokol is around. She brings a modicum of feeling to Martha Leonards, the Jewish mama. A cartoon right out of a Roz Chast drawing, she is nevertheless real and touching in her concern for her son Steve, even when casting a baleful eye on his (of course Christian) live-in girlfriend, Melinda.

Steve and Melinda are actors taking lessons from Bernardo, who has written a musical called "I Married a Communist." When that show is, improbably, picked up for Broadway, only Melinda is asked to go along, leaving a forlorn Steve to substitute her wig stand for her at dinner.

Except for a bit where Steve exacts public revenge, the rest is predictable. Interspersed are purposely atrocious songs (two by Michael Garin, one by Doug Maxwell and actor Peter Scolari) rendered as part of Bernardo's musical, plus theatre jokes (for example, "Acting is all about honesty -- if you can fake that, you got it made").

Director Jeremy Dobrish does what he can. As Melinda, Lisa Datz skillfully balances her character's ambition with a genuine love for Steve, while Josh Prince makes the most out of jokey impersonations that Steve uses as a crutch for his despair. Brian Henderson is goofy as a klutzy fellow actor, while Scolari goes for the moon as Bernardo.

William Barclay's set has some nice surprises. Phil Monat's lighting and Mattie Ullrich's costumes are attractive, and Jill BC DuBoff provides appropriate sounds.

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