“The Witches of Eastwick”

Signature Theatre, Arlington VA • 15 July 2007 • 2pm
Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey. Based on the novel by John Updike & the Warner Bros. Motion Picture. Music by Dana P. Rowe.

Directed by Eric Schaeffer. Musical Director: John Kalbfleisch. With Marc Kudisch (Darryl Van Horne), Emily Skinner (Alexandra Spofford), Christiane Noll (Jane Smart), Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (Sukie Rougemont), Karlah Hamilton (Felicia Gabriel), Harry A. Winter (Clyde Gabriel), James Gardiner (Michael Spofford), Erin Driscoll (Jennifer Gabriel)…

I saw the original London production of The Witches of Eastwick twice and never quite understood why it failed to find its audience. Why is it that a show so filled with laughs and which is the ideal showcase for four strong comedians has, to this day, failed to survive? Sure, it may not have the greatest score ever, and not the greatest book either… but neither has The Phantom of the Opera, which is a lot less funny!

Kudos to the Signature Theatre for giving the show its American première. Eric Schaeffer has infused the show with tons of extra wit. Beside, he’s done what the London production had failed to do: give the show four impeccable leads. I am not usually a big fan of Marc Kudisch, but he is giving the performance of a lifetime. He never misses a beat, lands his lines perfectly… and has both the perfect looks and the perfect voice to play Darryl Van Horne — who happens to have the best songs in the score.

Now if somebody would please fix the few faults in the show, it would make perfect Broadway material… provided of course nobody felts the show’s lewdness factor has to be brought down, because that lewdness is exactly what makes it funny. And I was not the only one to think so during that performance.

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