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A CurtainUp Review
I'm happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. It's not perfect, but a well-constructed story and a tour de force performance from star Christina Bianco make Application Pending a fun and enjoyable show.
Bianco plays Christine, a kindergarten assistant suddenly elevated to the position of pre-primary admissions director at Edgeley Prep, an elite K-8 private school in Manhattan, by the intimidating headmaster, Dr. Larry Bradshaw. Bianco also plays him as well as her best friend Sabrina, her ex-husband Richard, the kindergarten teacher Mrs. Pendelton, and everyone else.
One person shows like this tend to be high-wire acts, with the constant switching of parts tiring for both performer and audience members, and most actors are not up to the job. But Bianco, whose multifaceted career has given her plenty of chances to perform in a various roles, shows impressive, even staggering range in representing a whole host of anxious parents, angry administrators, activists and ice sculptors (really!)— somehow keeping them all distinct and unconfusing. It's almost worth going to the show just to see her go through her paces.
But what's truly surprising is how well the story actually works. The show is barely over an hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission, yet Edwards and Sandberg (who also directs) add a host of complications to the mix Christine is forced to handle and somehow bring all the loose ends back together in a (relatively speaking) logical and satisfying way. There must have been an impulse to just let Bianco go crazy on stage and allow her charisma and skill to carry the day, but Edwards and Sandberg deserve credit for resisting this and developing the narrative in a way that makes sense.
As I mentioned, Application Pending isn't perfect; stereotypes remain, and the show is rarely hilarious. But it's solid and often funny, with the likable Christine (and the extraordinarily talented Bianco who plays her) at its core to hold it together. If you're a parent yourself — or if you've ever watched the perorations parents sometimes go through to get their children "on the right path" — you'll find much to enjoy.