Sunday, March 13, 2011

Having It All, or Having It Almost?

Lindsey Alley, Kim Huber, Alet Taylor, Jennifer Leigh
Warren and Shannon Warne. Photo: Michael Lamont

Why does the grass always seem greener on the other side of the fence? That is until we get a good look at what's really there, and then a newfound appreciation for what we have returns. That’s the dilemma of the five women in Having It All, a world premiere musical from David Elzer & Peter Schneider, now playing through April 24th at NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood.

The scene is the boarding area of JFK international airport where the women are waiting for their flight to Los Angeles, city of dreams. If clothes make the man, then shoes make the woman, and the opening song, “In Her Shoes/This Time” is a brilliantly comical introduction in which each woman fantasizes about the lives of the others based on her footwear.

Amy (Shannon Warne) is the restless housewife in comfortable sneakers and Julia (Jennifer Leigh Warren) the typical high-powered career woman in 4-inch spike heels who is constantly on her cell phone. Sissy (Lindsey Alley), a struggling writer with a looming book deadline, wears only one artsy boot because she broke her foot while having stand-up sex (that’s right!), and perky schoolteacher Lizzie (Kim Huber) joins the others wearing perfectly practical beige pumps. The final member of the group, Carly (Alet Taylor), is an all organic yoga girl who horrifies the others by arriving barefoot, singing the praises of anything that dares to put down roots like her, including vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

As one delay after another keeps them stuck on the ground, they strike up a conversation (some willingly, some not so willingly) to pass the time. Secrets are revealed, decisions are challenged, and in the end, each one leaves with a newfound awareness of herself. Maya Angelou may have said it best when she said, “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you,” and what these women have kept inside could fill volumes.

There is so much to love about this classy production, beginning with Richard Israel’s smart, seamless direction and his terrific cast. Alley is a fast-talking comedian who owns every moment of her disastrous dating history and her “Dating is Just a Four-Letter Word” is hysterical. Warne is mesmerizing as the disillusioned housewife and her usual sparkling soprano takes on an even more powerful edge as she sings of the loss of her life before marriage and family.

Huber, another soprano sweetheart, describes her marriage as the typical Tupperware picture of a dream come true but the reality is that there is a great gaping hole in her life. Between her predicament and Taylor’s admission that there is an herb for everything…except getting older, it’s enough to break your heart. And jaded business exec Warren can deliver a power ballad like nobody’s business, knocking it out of the park with the title song.

John Kavanaugh has written some beautiful music for the show, which has lyrics by David Goldsmith, book by Goldsmith & Wendy Perelman, and is conceived by Perelman. The fantastic musical direction is by Greg Nabours, who makes the most of his talented cast’s vocal strength, and when they sing in harmony it is gorgeous.

Set designer Stephen Gifford turns the NoHo Arts stage into a sleek first class version of JFK’s airport waiting room in cool blues and grays, backed with a stunning cloud-filled sky. It’s as real as it gets, and the first clue that we’re in for a top-notch production. Add Luke Moyer’s lighting design and Ann Closs-Farley’s costumes and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Having It All is that rare “everywoman” musical. It’s for every woman who’s ever been at a crossroads in her life, doubted her choices, or just plain tried to keep all the plates spinning in the air. In honor of the heart and soul you put into your lives and into the lives of those you love, this one’s for you.

For tickets, call 323-960-7776 or visit For more information about the musical go to
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