The Women | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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On Monday the brave men who play The Women return to the Park West to again assault the barriers of good taste , re-creating their unrepentantly revisionist take on Clare Booth Luce's play: a nasty, brazen, bitchy slice of wit if there ever was one. Luce's spitefest depicts a coven of female "friends," jaded New York socialites, who scheme, backstab, slander, and sometimes support each other. George Cukor made a notorious film version in 1939 (featuring a deliciously repellent Joan Crawford seeking to steal the husband of invincibly virtuous Norma Shearer), and Cloud 42's gender-bending travesty oddly celebrates not only the play's spitfire story but the film's over-the-top acting. Yet this hilariously serious concert version--a benefit for Cloud 42 now in its fourth annual incarnation--is no drag show: Patrick Trettenero's all-male cast are dressed as men, and they undermine rather than reinforce the script's kill-for-your-man stereotypes. All-suffering sob sister Mary Haines is played by Jeffrey Hughes, whose recent throbbing incarnation of the lady of the camellias in Cloud 42's Camille: A Tearjerker more than qualifies him for the role. Supporting La Hughes is a rogues' gallery of Chicago's cleverest character actors, including Larry Neumann Jr., Matt McDonald, Nathan Rankin, Kevin Farrell, Page Hearn, Cal Fuller, Bob Pries, Ted Altschuler, and Mike Dempsey. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 559-1212. Monday, June 20, 8 PM (doors open for cash bar at 7 PM). $12 in advance; $15 at the door.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joseph A. Nicita.

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