Theater review: ‘Having it All’ at the NoHo Arts Center
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Feminists of a certain age will likely recall either rolling in the aisles or frothing at the mouth over Helen Gurley Brown’s bestseller, “Having it All: Love, Success, Sex, Money” That telling subtitle refers to Brown’s hyperbolic hypothesis that there were absolutely no limits to what women could accomplish in life.
Of course, some 30 years later, many women realize that having it all really means doing it all -- as primary caregivers, primary chore-doers, and more and more frequently, primary breadwinners. Fortunately, the world premiere musical, ”Having it All,” at the Noho Arts Center, only uses Brown’s campy book as a jumping-off point to examine the plight of the modern-day everywoman. In that, it succeeds brilliantly.
The show was conceived by Wendy Perelman and features a book by Perelman and David Goldsmith, who also wrote the exceptionally clever lyrics. John Kavanaugh composed the terrific music. Richard Israel directs this near-faultless production.
The action is set in an airport (designer Stephen Gifford’s handsome set), where five stranded women banter, bicker and bond with a vengeance. The characters are somewhat obvious archetypes -- frazzled businesswoman, frustrated mom, carefree yoga instructor, infertile small-town wife, and neurotic Jewish writer -– yet they balance one another perfectly, spanning the spectrum of female-kind to make a strong feminist point.
The cast -- Lindsey Alley, Kim Huber, Alet Taylor, Shannon Warne, and Jennifer Leigh Warren -- is also perfectly balanced -– one of the finest ensembles in memory. If overworked women can find time to see this show, they will be in on the ground floor of something very special indeed. (Men fond of musical numbers that will blow them into next week should tag along too.)
-- F. Kathleen Foley
“Having it All,” NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Saturday at 3 p.m. Dark Sunday. $40. (323) 960-7776. www.plays411.com/havingitall. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.