There are a few things that can really make us squirm. One of them is three mom-like ladies smilingly singing songs about their menstrual cycles, which we witnessed last night at the Actors' Playhouse production See Jane Run!.
Okay, so the opening song to the musical was actually about the multifarious moods and sides to every complex, vaginally-equipped creature. But the playwright chose to swathe this message in a 3-inch-thick, thigh-grazing maxi-pad of a menstrual musical metaphor.
Luckily, things quickly got out of the feminine hygiene aisle and onto more palatable topics. See Jane Run! is entirely composed of musical vignettes that show the modern middle-aged American woman --- correction, white
middle-aged American woman --- in the multitude of roles she might
A recent divorcee bumbles through a job interview after
spending decades as a housewife. Two women in colonial garb squabble as
they rehearse a butter- and soap-churning act they perform for
elementary school classes (uh, some vignettes work better than others).
A woman lies prone with a sprained ankle she got while practicing step
aerobics on a foot stool at midnight because she "felt fat." A lesbian
couple embraces before one of them leaves to pick up her child and meet
up with her husband, prompting the other to break into agonized song. A
woman stumbles out of a party to confess her alcoholism to a stranger at
a bus stop.
many of them musical, were performed by the same three actresses:
Maribeth Graham, in our opinion, the most "tightly-wound Jane," a wiry
redhead who's appeared in many South Florida and Off-Broadway
productions and who also wrote the book and lyrics for See Jane Run!;
Irene Adjan, "the softest Jane," a South Florida stage vet; and Jeni
Hacker, "goofy Jane," who's billed foremost as a singer (and has a
tremendous voice) but who also brought the best comedic timing to the
number that we found somewhat troubling. It started out like a
pretty innocuous song about the luxurious problem of being a dorky white
girl. Adjan sang something about getting "all new threads at J. Crew,"
and still not looking hip. "What's a poor white girl to do?" she
Then the song took an unexpected turn, with a painfully
repetitive chorus about how Jane could never be a "sexy black Mama like
Michelle Obama." It's not out
of reverence for the first lady that we cringed when the Janes sang out
their envy for Obama's toned arms and great ass, or even when they gave
pelvic thrusts and blurted "How 'bout some affirmative action for me?"
The disturbing factors were two-fold: one, the play is supposed to
examine the 21st century woman, and this song was one of the only
mentions of politics, or really anything outside of relationships and
appearance, and still its depth didn't reach beyond wanting to bone the
president. And two, with its lyrics about "women of color" having such
great rhythm, if the song couldn't quite be labeled "racist," it
certainly seems that it would be alienating to non-white women in the
It doesn't help that the only other appearance of a non-WASPy
character was that of a somewhat dim-witted Spanish-speaking maid
(Hacker), who waits on her white boss (Adjan) in a
fall-all-over-yourself servile manner.
scenes were more effective, among them an emotionally-charged musical
round in which each of the three ladies danced around the next and
bitterly asked how it felt to steal her man. A series of dates that
tracked a woman from single, to married, to divorced, to dating the
widower next door showed the unpredictability of love's course in the
modern age. And a shotgun-toting, man-obsessed psycho dater provided
comic relief and prompted an "I know that girl!" reaction, at least from
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by some very capable, refreshingly normal-looking, age-appropriate
actresses. The script, though, in what seems like a flaw, indicates that
though Jane may be rich, homeless, bitchy, sensitive, moody, giving,
grateful, spoiled, sexual, bipolar, gay, straight, or even alcoholic ---
a veritable "every woman," --- she is always, invariably, white.
See Jane Run! plays through August 14 at the Actors' Playhouse (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables). Tickets cost $35. Catch performances Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with
Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. for $40, except Saturdays which are $48. Call
305-444-9293 or visit actorsplayhouse.org.