More harmful, though, is the failure of Lucas and his cast to convey the sense of ease that should accompany 25-year-old friendships. Even re-enactments of adolescence and childhood (with little discernible distinction between different ages in the cutesy portrayals) do nothing to foster any real chemistry or warmth among these characters. Tee Scatuorchio's chilly direction shares the revue style of Carnelia's music, favoring stiff poses and over-earnest expressions as the actresses belt their numbers. In "Three Postcards," even the giggling that begins at nursery school and proceeds through adulthood seems forced.

More harmful, though, is the failure of Lucas and his cast to convey the sense of ease that should accompany 25-year-old friendships. Even re-enactments of adolescence and childhood (with little discernible distinction between different ages in the cutesy portrayals) do nothing to foster any real chemistry or warmth among these characters. Tee Scatuorchio’s chilly direction shares the revue style of Carnelia’s music, favoring stiff poses and over-earnest expressions as the actresses belt their numbers. In “Three Postcards,” even the giggling that begins at nursery school and proceeds through adulthood seems forced.

Three Postcards

Production

NEW YORK A Circle Repertory Company revival of a musical play by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Craig Carnelia. Directed by Tee Scatuorchio.

Crew

Set, Derek McLane; costumes, Toni-Leslie James; lighting, Tom Sturge; musical direction, Steve Freeman; dramaturg, Lynn M. Thomson; production manager, Karen A. Potosnak; production stage manager, Denise Yaney. Artistic director, Tanya Berezin; executive director, Milan Stitt. Opened Nov. 16, 1994, at the Circle in the Square Theater (Downtown). Reviewed Nov. 15; 183 seats; $ 35 top. Running time:1 HOUR, 40 MIN.

With

Bill, a piano player ... Steve Freeman Walter, a waiter ... David Pittu Big Jane ... Johanna Day Little Jane ... Amy Kowallis K.C. ... Amanda Naughton Musical numbers:"Opening,""She Was K.C.,""What the Song Should Say,""I've Been Watching You,""3 Postcards,""The Picture in the Hall,""See How the Sun Shines,""A Minute,""I'm Standing in This Room." Eavesdropping on a klatch of chatty confidantes must certainly be more enticing than Craig Lucas makes it seem in "Three Postcards," a one-act musical play that has all the depth of a typical wish-you-were-here missive. Few will want to stay for dessert after a long dinner with this trio of gal pals. Lucas has rewritten his 1987 play and composer Craig Carnelia has added a new score, but the polishing does little to elevate this piece above mediocrity. One can't help wondering why so much time and effort has been poured into such a fairly negligible work. Set in a trendy Manhattan restaurant (austerely rendered by set designer Derek McLane), "Three Postcards" has three 30ish women -- friends since childhood -- reminiscing and relating. And relating and relating. They take occasional breaks from one another to address the audience in language that seems lifted from self-help books of 1970s vintage:"It isn't OK with her that I'm OK," one says of another, commanding the rejoinder, "She's defending herself against real closeness." Since the plot is, essentially, a meal, the play rests solely on the characters, far too heavy a burden for this postcard-thin trio (a waiter and a piano player are called upon to sketch a number of male roles). Each woman is defined by a single trait: Ditzy Big Jane (Johanna Day) has no self-esteem; career woman Little Jane (Amy Kowallis) is controlling; and chic K.C. (Amanda Naughton) is emotionally inhibited. Needless to say, any two of the friends are forever encouraging the third to overcome whatever, so the Janes try to get K.C. to share her feelings about her mother's death, while Big Jane is chastised for cleaning an ex-boyfriend's apartment, etc. Carnelia's score is standard cabaret/revue fare of the "A ... My Name Is Alice" mode, not surprising since the composer was a contributor to that show's sequel a couple of seasons back. The touchy-feely lyrics, like the characters, will leave faint impression, and at times the musical style seems at odds with the setting: A flashback shows the friends as teenagers practicing girl-group moves but sounding less Motown, more West Village piano bar.
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