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July 19, 2011 > Theatre Review: The Star Spangled Girl

Theatre Review: The Star Spangled Girl

By Julie Grabowski

Independence Day might be over, but the flag is still flying at Broadway West with their production of Neil Simon's "The Star Spangled Girl."

It is 1966 in San Francisco and Andy and Norman are trying to finish the latest edition of their monthly protest magazine, Fallout. Phone calls about payment are pouring in, bills are collecting in the garbage, and Andy is risking life and limb by accompanying their landlady on her daredevil excursions so she won't collect the rent. With three articles left to write, a patriotic Southern girl named Sophie Rauschmeyer moves in next door, sending Norman into an obsessive, love-stricken mania that threatens the sanity and future of all three.

While Norman's talent and versatility as a writer fuels the magazine (he writes the entire thing under 14 nom de plumes), the stress and strain of dealing with him over the years has turned Andy's eyelashes gray. Yet he's not about to sacrifice his friend and magazine to the whims of love. When Norman's over attentiveness to Sophie brings everything to the very edge of collapse, Andy makes an arrangement with Sophie to save his magazine and her pending marriage. But an unexpected spark (or smell) throws a wrench into the whole operation.

This triangle of actors is solid and sure footed, with Brad Monk clearly at the peak. Monk commands the show with ease and control as Andy, and gets to deliver the best lines Simon has to offer. He wears the role so comfortably, it would not be a surprise to find him living on the set at the theatre.

Melinda Marks's Sophie is a boiling pot of frustration and anger that is both engaging and exhausting. She exudes passion and presence, and when the burners are turned down a notch in her confession scene with Andy, it is one of the most enjoyable of the night. Greg Small as Norman maintains a medium pitch between the calm and hysteria of the other two, and while he carries his weight, you can't help but want a little something more. Though amusing, Small comes off as a bit stilted and awkward amid the fluid confidence of Monk and Marks.

While not one of the best of Simon's plays, "The Star Spangled Girl" delivers a fair amount of fun, frolic, and laugh out loud moments worthy of a trip to the theatre.

General admission is $23 and $18 for students, seniors, and TBA members. Thursday performances on July 21, August 4, and August 11 are $15, with the Thursday, July 28 performance just $10 for all tickets. Sundays and opening night are $23 for everyone. Enjoy a pre-show continental brunch on July 24 and 31 at 12:15 p.m., and theme-based refreshments during intermission at the August 7 performance. Refreshments are included in ticket price.

The Star Spangled Girl
Friday, July 15 - Saturday, August 13
8 p.m.; 1 p.m. Sundays
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay St., Fremont
(510) 683-9218
Tickets: $10 - $23

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