Review: 'The Seven Year Itch' at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre

Nancy Sasso Janis

OnStage Connecticut Critic / Connecticut Critics Circle

Berlin, CT - Connecticut Cabaret Theatre opened its 2017 season on Friday with the comedy ‘The Seven Year Itch’ by George Axelrod. The play was produced and directed by CCT owner Kris McMurray and James J. Moran designed the lights, sound and the impressive set. The three act play was presented with one intermission and Mr. McMurray shared during his curtain speech that during the season selection process, this play was one of the few that he was able to read to the end. 

The phrase that is the title refers to a term used by psychologists for declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage. The play was filmed in 1955. It was directed and co-written by Billy Wilder and starred Tom Ewell reprising his Broadway leading role and Marilyn Monroe as ‘The Girl.’ I was only familiar with the film and the iconic scene of Ms. Monroe and that white halter dress on the subway grate; it appears that the play is quite different. 

In the comedy, one Richard Sherman, a presumably well-off gentleman in book publishing, has shipped his wife Helen and son off on a summer vacation. He takes the opportunity to live like a bachelor in their well-appointed apartment. Then a gorgeous blonde model (‘The Girl’) moves into the apartment upstairs, and catches his eye when she drops a potted tomato plant onto his terrace. Richard becomes immediately infatuated with her and begins to ponder infidelity. In fantasy sequences, Richard dreams of his beautiful new neighbor, questions the fidelity of his wife and has conversations with his conscience.  

I suppose the action was all very modern in its day, but despite the best efforts of this fine cast, I just didn’t think it was all that funny. There were definitely some laughs, mostly thanks to “The Girl,” but I wished there was more comedy for the actors and audience to enjoy. It wasn’t exactly dated so much as hard to follow. In hindsight, I think I may have mixed up one fantasy scene with reality and perhaps it just took too much effort for what some call a  “romantic comedy,” at least for me. I would quibble with the romantic label as well. 

However, I cannot fault the performances of any member of this cast with the material they were given. Alex Papacoda played the character of Richard Sherman with aplomb and never got to leave the stage. He had a lot of lines to learn and except for a few opening night snafus, he pulled it off nicely. Maria Pompile was his faithful wife Helen Sherman, as well as the similarly dressed conscience of ‘The Girl.’ Daryel Gonzalez was pitch perfect as the other guy Tom McKenzie, as well as a more nagging conscience for Richard. CCT favorite Dave Wall, who just celebrated his 70th birthday at this very venue, was an author/psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker. 

Best of all was the lovely Meagan Palmer (pictured) as the model only referred to as “The Girl.” While she looked the part in various costume changes and a spectacular blonde wig, her performance was more of an homage to the iconic Ms. Monroe than a caricature. She lit up the stage whenever she interacted with Richard and succeeded in stealing the show. Kudos to this young actress for pulling off what could have been a disastrous imitation. 

On opening night, I was seated at a (different) table with a pair of ladies that had been there for the opening of ‘Miss Abigail.’ Tilda was the one who recognized me and I shared that I had mentioned her in my review, as well as all of the patrons who had bravely gotten up on the stage at the last production I had seen at CTT. From this table in the center of the room, I noticed how often many of the patrons offered advice aloud to the characters onstage and spoke to others at their table during the performance. Two broke into uncontrollable laughter at something I had obviously missed at their table. This was an interesting addition to the performance and was perhaps a result of the ‘bring your own policy detailed below. 

‘The Seven Year Itch’ runs every Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm from February 17th through  March 18th, 2017. Doors open at 7:15pm. Reservations are recommended. The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre is located at 31 Webster Square Road, just off Route 9 (exit 22: Mill Street) and the Berlin Turnpike. The theatre’s motto is “BRING YOUR OWN”. Presented cabaret-style, patrons are welcome to bring whatever they like to eat or drink with them. They also can enjoy a dessert bar that has a variety of treats to purchase.

Nancy Sasso Janis is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and continues to contribute theatre news on local Patch sites. Follow her on Twitter at @nancysjanis417 and at her Facebook page Connecticut Theatre Previews.

Pictured: Meagan Palmer Photo Credit: Connecticut Cabaret Theatre