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|A CurtainUp Review
Tonight at 8:30 (Series B)
Series A Below is some background on Series B based on this reviewer's experience with Coward and advance press materials. Please check back next week for more detailed impressions of the performances and staging
Ann Reinking's "8:30" trio opens with one of the collection's best known and most popular, "Red Peppers", and closes with its least known, "Star Chamber."
Even people who are familiar with the various rotations of the plays think of the lot as totaling nine. There are, in fact, ten and this "missing tenth" play is here used as the finale. Set in an empty theater during the board meeting of a theatrical charity, it was written to star Gertrude Lawrence as the larger-than-life stage star Xenia James (played at WTF by Deborah Rush) and Noël Coward as Johnny Bolton (Bill Irwin at WTF), a standup comedian who was characterized as a bore. After taking on the presidency of the Actors' Orphanage, Coward felt that he had inadvertently satirised people he esteemed highly and with nine other plays providing an abundance of riches, he dropped this play from the rotating cycle. The idea of a home for destitute actresses, called Garrick Haven in "Star Chamber", resurfaced later in Waitig In the Wings (recently revived on Broadway and giving plum roles to some of our more distinguished theatrical senior citizens).