Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 19, 2024

Review: Majestic Theater, "The Ladyslipper"

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
February 18 - March 24, 2024 
by Lisa Covi

"The Ladyslipper" is a bar in a rural town in the Northeastern US where the owner has died and prospects for reopening are uncertain. The closeup venue and professional production values of this play draw the audience immediately into a warm familiarity. Daniel Rist's lighting and Dawn McKay's costume design blend to provide an evocative and workable space for the intimate action.

Mark Dean as Jebb and Jay Sefton's Hank feel authentic and recognizable as the cook and bartender, respectively, who know about all the goings-on except where their own lives are going. Enter the ladies. Like the glorious petals of the bar's mascot, they infuse life and romance into the play. Lana, played by Madeleine Maggio, is the British heiress apparent, having received this establishment from Rosie, her recently deceased birth mother. Chelsea Nectow's Trisha, the lawyer handling the transaction is the daughter of Rosie's best friend Estelle (played by Cate Damon). Despite the admiration of Jebb and Hank, Trisha is imminently to be wed to Jimmy Collins (Jay Torres), her childhood sweetheart. The actors inhabit these characters so completely that we immediately perceive the control Jimmy tries to exert on Trisha, the exotic air that Lana imports from her life in Spain, and the tenderness between mother Estelle and daughter Trisha.

This play by Danny Eaton, the long-time producing director of Majestic Theater, was first produced as a live reading in 2020.

Photo by Kait Rankins
The responsive audience was clearly entertained with the laughter during the comical dialog between Jebb and Hank and audible gasps during the surprises post-intermission. However, the play does not yet feel fully edited because the plot is bogged down with exposition in the first six scenes. For example, the plethora of detail about each character could be better balanced by some struggle or foreshadowing to enhance the comedy or drama. 

Without revealing the major plot twist, the compelling action happens primarily late in the play. When it does occur, the production hits a sweet spot of acting in a well-designed space with delicate moments between different subsets of players.