Break The Mold Productions 

Reviews for The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman

January 29, 2010

David Cuthbert, on PBS affiliate WYES program “Steppin’ Out”

I almost never review something that a viewer can't see – such a show that's played only a few performances and closed.  There are exceptions however.

Last week, at the Marigny Theater, I saw a one-woman show, The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman," that is simply extraordinary and if there's any justice, it will return Karen Shields gives a beautifully modulated performance: moving, poignant, terribly theatrical and funny as hell – as the 19th century actress Charlotte Cushman.

Cushman was, in her day, the most acclaimed actress "on two continents," as she says. Her repertoire included 190 roles – male as well as female – and her private life was a scandal to the jaybirds. She played Romeo to her younger sister's Juliet, had multiple, overlapping romantic female friendships and her story even has a dramatic turning point i
n New Orleans.

Playwright Carolyn Gage has written a superbly structured monologue, a showcase for a strong, dynamic actress and Ms. Shields fills the bill and then some. It has also been directed with great sensitivity and humor by Glenn Meche for the new Break the Mold Productions and that it does.

"Hey, Mr. Producers – I'm talking to you sirs" --Discriminating local theatergoers deserve the opportunity to see "The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman" and I hope to see it again at the Marigny Theater, Le Chat Noir, Muriel's Cabaret – ANY intimate performing space. Please?

Reviews for  A Different Woman: a True Story of a Texas Childhood

"Growing up in West Texas was no picnic for this feisty proto-feminist. Russell's subtle retelling keeps the story compelling and her audience sympathetic."-- Elizabeth Lawlor, Village Voice
   "...something of a miracle...her story deserves the audience it never got, and one hopes that through Russell's work it will finally be heard." ---Kimberly Wadsworth,
   "...such a strong theatrical experience. ...a story of fortitude and determination, and, as humorously and smartly performed by Ms. Russell, the result is a quietly powerful mix of horror, humor and perseverance, and an intense journey into a world few New Yorkers get to experience by a first-hand source." ---Jena Fox, Broadway World