AISLE SAY Philadelphia


Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music by Jimmy Roberts
Based upon the screenplay Men by Dorris Dorrie
Directed by Mark Clements
Walnut Street Theatre
9th & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Playing through July 2, 2006
Box Office: 215-574-3550

Reviewed by Claudia Perry

Freshly opened like a box of new bon bons at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 is "The Thing About Men". From the creators of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change", Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts, comes this musical farce based on the German Film "MEN" by Dorris Dorrie.

A successful advertising executive who has it all (great job, beautiful family and a hot girlfriend) discovers that his wife is having an affair. In shock, he moves out of their house and in incognito moves in with his wife's arty lover with the hope of seeking revenge. But as the story unfolds the two men become fast friends.

The book and lyrics by DiPietro are very funny and the music by Mr. Roberts is quite appealing. This little production at the Walnut is like a Petit Four - though there may not be much cake on the inside -- the outer sugary coating is so delectable that it makes a delicious treat all the same. I attribute this firstly and mostly to the deft direction by Mark Clements who has this piece working like a well oiled machine. Having directed the first Off-Broadway production in 2003, it's obvious that this director has a clear vision of how this piece should work. Secondly, the show is extremely well cast. The leading man, Dan Sharkey is simply wonderful as the aggressive, competitive, husband, Tom. Tom is the engine that drives the show and drive it Mr. Sharkey does. The range of emotion that Mr. Sharkey takes us through is above and beyond the demands of the script and it just goes to show how much a great actor can add to a production. In direct contrast to his "Type A" character, offstage Mr. Sharkey is a most affable and mild mannered fellow as anyone could hope for. No wonder that he will soon be opening on Broadway in "Lone Star Dove", a musical version of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" set in the old West during the Civil War. Denise Whelan is terrific as Lucy, the wife whose hot and heavy affair with Sebastian, the artist cools down when he goes corporate. And Fred Rose as Sebastian has a very nice evolution of character from the diffident, cool, "I never sold out artist", to the supercharged successful Art Director that he morphs into. Ellie Mooney (Woman) and Fran Prisco (Man) round out the cast playing everything from dippy next door neighbors, philosophical cab drivers, and snippy Ma_tre de's, to overly affected fashion mavens and drunken priests -- to great comic effect. The voices of all five performers are excellent and the campy costumes by Mary Folino only add to the merriment. All I can say is that "The Thing About Men" makes a great "date musical" if such a thing exists. I guarantee you will be laughing the whole way through -- which is not a bad way to spend a lovely spring evening.

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