Urban Fairy Tales

Mary Poppins makes little magic; Julie White gets big laughs

Lethal weapon: Julie White
Carol Rosegg
Lethal weapon: Julie White


Mary Poppins
By Julian Fellowes, the Sherman Brothers, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe
New Amsterdam Theatre
214 West 42 nd Street

The Little Dog Laughed
By Douglas Carter Beane
Cort Theatre
138 West 48 th Street

Suddenly Last Summer
By Tennessee Williams
Laura Pels Theatre
111 West 46 th Street

No such applause greets the less lucky Carla Gugino despite her impassioned, voluptuous reading of the long monologue that closes Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams's Southern Gothic horror tale about a parvenu princess trapped, first in her rich Prince Charming's decadent self-destructiveness, and then, after his death, in his mother's queenly desire to suppress the evidence. Feverish, a little silly, and awkwardly structured, Williams's tale has never really carried the effectiveness its powerful undercurrents demand, and Mark Brokaw's stilted, gelid production has removed most of the little it does carry. And Santo Loquasto's set, which buries the Venable mansion in rainforest, seems permanently at odds with Brokaw's staging. The feistiness of Blythe Danner as the wealthy mother shines through her vocal difficulties, but Gale Harold, as the troubled brain doctor, provides only eye candy and woodenness. Gugino's fierceness cuts through much of the deadly overgrowth, but it's a futile effort. In this jungle, even the Venus flytraps have no snap.

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