By Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek
Broadway's Belasco Theatre
In the small but rapidly growing universe of Broadway musicals-based-on-movies, I don't think I've ever seen a more faithful adaptation than this one. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown reproduces the bright, poppy colors, the giddy romantic-roundelay plot, and even many of the lines from the 1988 Pedro Almodóvar film about a group of women with man problems in contemporary Madrid. It also provides juicy roles for some of Broadway's most talented singing actresses. The magnetic Sherie Renee Scott (Aida, Everyday Rapture) plays Pepa, a voiceover actress whose longtime lover has broken up with her via answering machine; Laura Benanti (a Tony winner for Gypsy) is fun as her ditsy model friend who's dating a terrorist; and the indomitable Patti LuPone plays the straying lover's ex-wife, tearing through a couple of big numbers with the sort of vocal histrionics that have made her a favorite of Broadway parodists for years. The show, like the film, is a scattered and pretty silly concoction (gazpacho spiked with valium? please), but Bartlett Sher's production is chic, smart and visually adorable, with a combination of sliding backdrops and rear projections evoking the Madrid cityscape. Best of all is a surprisingly engaging score by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), who deploys a variety of Latin rhythms to make everything from patter songs to wistful laments stand out from the generic-Broadway crowd.
Next The Scottsboro Boys