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Serenading Louie

Presented by the If Ensemble at the Kraine Theater, 85 E. Fourth St., NYC, June 17-26.

Director Lisa Mitchell has missed the point in casting a rare revival of Lanford Wilson's "Serenading Louie," a riff on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" This is a midlife crisis play. The characters talk about being the "older generation" and reminisce about their college days years ago. The wife of the ex-football jock mentions how much weight he has gained in the intervening years. Casting it with 20-somethings may seem clever, but life experience is needed to make this meandering but well-meaning play believable.

Wilson's title comes from the Yale Wiffenpoof song, almost a summary of his plot: "We will serenade our Louie/While life and voice shall last/Then we'll pass and be forgotten/With the rest." Immersed in making money, ex-football star Carl ignores the fact that his wife, Mary, is having an affair with one of his co-workers. His best friend, Alex, has grown bored with his insecure wife, Gabby, and started a relationship with a 17-year-old college coed. One fateful night all is revealed.

Juliet Gabrielle's set does not satisfactorily solve the problems created by using the same playing area for both couples' separate apartments, making much of the play confusing. The casting, however, is the major misstep. As the paunchy jock, Nate Rubin doesn't have an ounce to lose and looks like he just grew his first beard. John Samuel Jordan's Alex, who is about to become a congressman, doesn't look old enough to be a lawyer.

This would not matter if the characters suggested the weight of a midlife crisis. Erin DePaula's Mary acts as though she were still Carl's homecoming queen rather than having any angst of her own. The chattering of Cadence Allen's Gabby never suggests that rather than trying to reach her disaffected husband, she is simply attempting to fill up the silence.

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