Patty & Emily at Under My Skin

The body swap comedy has long been an important dramatic tradition. And new play Under My Skin by Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser does this tradition proud. Taking a new twist on familiar territory, Under My Skin finds the actors, Kerry Butler (Melody Dent) and Matt Walton (Harrision Badish III), switching costumes instead of mannerisms. So instead of a Freaky Friday situation where Jamie Lee Curtis (or Barbara Harris if you’re old school) acts like a teenager, you have Kerry Butler dressed as a man, dealing with her new found “equipment” and Harrison’s randy financè. Or Matt Walton in a breezy hospital gown, dealing with the uncomfortable reality of a visit to the gynecologist.

The play tackles some bigger issues too, as the laughs come. Predictably, the differences between men and women, and how we all should be a little more understanding of each other. But also the very hot button issue of healthcare, as Harrison is the CEO of a large insurance provider and Melody his employee. Many aspects are touched on, from preventative care to benefits for part time employees. If only we could all swap bodies in real life, maybe we’d be able to figure it out too.

Kerry Butler and Matt Walton both did great jobs retaining their characters, while juggling the task of also acting as the other. The cast is rounded out by a fantastic ensemble, and they all deserve a mention: Dierdre Friel, Edward James Hyland, Kate Loprest, Andrew Polk, Megan Sikora, Allison Strong. The understudies are Justin Adams, Kate Fahrner, and John Michalski.

Make sure you get over to the Little Shubert and see this show! And before the show, stop by KTCHN, just down 42nd street. They have a great $25 Pre-Theatre Prefixe menu. We had a little taste, and if the quinoa bites are any indication, you won’t be disappointed. In the food or the show after.


The Lillias White Effect at 54 Below!

We were lucky enough to talk to Lillias White about her upcoming 54 Below show, The Lillias White Effect. But before we dove into that, we needed to make sure she knew that Audra McDonald went on a tweeting spree two weeks ago, posting links to YouTube videos of Lillias and calling her voice “singular, brilliant & perfect.” We couldn’t agree more and couldn’t be more excited for her upcoming show!

Lillias said it all started when 54 Below reached out to her to do a show at the venue. We also have her good friend Joshua Sherman to thank for getting her to the 54 Below stage. (Check out this amazing video they did together!) What made it all come together, however, was when Lillias “locked eyes” with a young man at the opening night for Disaster! the Musical. This young man was Will Nunziata. He approached Lillias because in that moment he had a gut feeling that this was the “once-in-a-lifetime talent” he was looking for to direct in a show.

And this show sounds like it’s going to be amazing, not that we thought a Lillias White show would be anything less! When we called her, she had just been listening to Rosalind Russell in Gypsy in preparation. Billy Stritch is her musical director. And she’s working with a director for the first time on a show like this. She is enjoying having Will there to really shape it. His focus is to stay true to Lillias as an artist, so we can expect all those songs we want to hear Lillias sing, but maybe not from such an expected place.

We ended our conversation with Lillias by asking her to answer our silly little questionnaire we’ve used in our 54 Below shows. Here are her answers:

Patty & Emily: Do you know Beth Leavel?

Lillias White: Yes

P&E: Which show do you most want revived?

LW: Oh, there’s a list. I would love to see Gyspy revived with me starring as Mama Rose. I’d love to see Mame too. Hello, Dolly! with me as Dolly. I’d love to see a revival of Once on This Island. What else? The Wiz.

P&E: Have you ever fallen asleep on stage while pretending to sleep or be dead on stage?

LW: No

P&E: What’s your favorite Broadway house?

LW: The St. James. I love it up there. That was my first.

P&E: Do you have a monologue?

LW: Uh, yeah. I could do one. If they called me today and said have it tomorrow, I could do that.

P&E: What is the show you’ve seen the most times?

LW: Dreamgirls. I think I’ve seen that show more than anything.

P&E: Who would you fangirl over?

LW: There are lots of people, you know, who are fantastic! There’s a singer named Ledisi. Every time I see her, I just bow down. Also, Leontyne Price. Harry Belafonte. There was a girl in Motown, Morgan James. She’s got some pipes. Also, Valerie Simpson. Rachelle Ferrell. And Mariah Carey. Also, Gregory Porter! Oh, oh, oh! That voice is just fantastic.

P&E: On a scale of 1-10, how awful is the Broadway World message board?

LW: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t look at that every day. I’m not a computer person.

P&E: If you had comps and a time machine, what would you go see?

LW: Oh, man. If I had comps and a time machine, I would go and see all of the shows that I would not have been able to see during the period where blacks were not allowed into the theatre. I would go see original productions of shows that had Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte.

We also asked Will if he had comps and time machine, which Lillias White show would he go see. He said The Life, and we would be right there with him.

The good thing is you don’t need a time machine to see Lillias White at 54 Below! She’s doing three nights: May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Get your tickets here, and we’ll see you there! We’ll be the ones crying.

Bullets Over Broadway Statement

When any new show is set to open, we immediately get questions from all of you as to when our review will be coming out. Which is why we wanted to let you know that we will not be seeing or reviewing Bullets Over Broadway. We’ve discussed it and given it a lot of thought, and while we will always support new theatre and theatre professionals, we do not feel comfortable promoting something that will, in part, benefit Woody Allen.