"No Way to Treat a Lady" slays the audience on opening night

Musical comedy about a maniac with mommy issues plays through July 9th

   Left to right: Bradley Dean and Judith Blazer in No Way to Treat a Lady at the Cape Playhouse. Photo by Kathleen A. Fahle.

By Maggie Kulbokas

The Cape Playhouse is on a roll with their second show of the season, No Way to Treat a Lady, running now through July 9th.  No Way to Treat a Lady is a dark, and funny musical about a serial killer on a rampage in New York City.  It may sound strange to use the words "funny" and "musical" to describe a story about a cop trying to catch a cold-blooded killer, but it really works.

No Way to Treat a Lady is a story about good boys, bad boys, and the women who shape their lives.  The book, music and lyrics were written by Cape native and award-winning author/composer, Douglas J. Cohen.  Cohen was in the audience at last night's well-received performance.

The musical was based on the 1964 novel of the same name by William Goldman.  Goldman's novel was originally made into a motion picture in 1968 and starred Rod Steiger and George Segal.

No Way to Treat a Lady tells the story of Christopher "Kit" Gill, an unsuccessful actor turned serial killer with mommy issues, and the NYPD detective on his trail, Morris "Moe" Brummell.  Brummell is a Jewish bachelor, who still lives with his overbearing mother, in the shadow of his successful brother the doctor. 

The detective leads a rather unexceptional existence, and yearns for a way to make a name for himself.  His goal is shared by an unlikely person, a serial killer seeking  notoriety and attention from the police, the press and the city at large. The killer phones Moe one day and the two begin a taunting game of cat and mouse that results in a strange dependence on one another.

Moe's plan to track and eventually trap the killer is temporarily waylaid when he meets a beautiful, rich society girl who lives in the apartment building of the first victim. Woven into the main story of cop vs killer are two subplots--what made Kit a killer and Moe's relationship with his mother and his new girlfriend.

Set in 1970s New York City, the stage design by Charlie Corcoran is both impressive and versatile. Towering brownstones and the steel bridge girders, gave the set a realistic urban feel.  Spinning corners are the front of the stage effortlessly switched the action from exterior to interior scenes.  A cleverly placed corral for the orchestra fit perfectly in the backdrop eliminating the need for an orchestra pit in front of the stage.

Effective lighting by Christopher S. Chambers, allowed for multiple scenes at one time.  Mark Shanahan's direction and Jennifer Waldman's choreography kept what could have become utter chaos, fluid and orderly.

The cast of four (portraying seventeen characters!)--Bradley Dean as the killer, Josh Grisetti as the cop, Stacie Morgain Lewis as the socialite and Judith Blazer as everyone else--were wonderful.  Blazer's transformation from an elderly victim to an overbearing Jewish mother to the several other characters she portrayed during the show was effortless and impressive.

Cohen's songs are fast and funny, although the humor at times is a bit cliché.  The idea of an upbeat ditty about a strangler may sound a bit off-putting--but it works. No Way to Treat a Lady is both dark and energetic. It may be no way to treat a lady, but it's an entertaining and fun way to treat an audience.

No Way to Treat a Lady runs now through July 9, Monday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Wednesday and the second Thursday at 2pm and the first Saturday at 4pm.  The Cape Playhouse is at 820 Route 6A in Dennis Village. Tickets and ticket subscriptions are available at the box office at 508-385-3911. Coming up next: The Graduate starring Patricia Richardson.

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