Middle-Aged White Women Should Run to See Jane Run!

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. 

"I'm per-i-odically moody... I'm per-i-odically fat ... I per-i-odically sing ... I per-i-odically come ... I'm per-i-odically a bitch..." 

Mild nausea aside, we dared not look to our right to gauge our date's reaction, for fear that he was no longer there.

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.

All of these and other short acts,

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


All three of these Janes collaborated on a

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

this reviewer. 

The play was acted quite well,

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.

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