BOTTOM LINE: A delightful musical based on the life of Judy Holliday with fine performances by the entire cast.
If you haven't yet purchased tickets for Just In Time – The Judy Holliday Story, do it now! The opening performance of this show was sold out – and understandably so. The double standing ovation that the show received upon its conclusion was fully merited and, in my opinion, this production will come to be considered one of the outstanding shows in this year's Fringe Festival. It would be a shame if you missed it.
Much of the credit for the success of this production must go to writer and director Bob Sloan, who created an intricate interwoven tapestry out of a variety of events in Judy's life, ranging from her high school graduation to her beating out Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Eleanor Parker and Gloria Swanson for the 1951 Academy Award for Best Actress; from her appearance on the television show What's My Line to her appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee; from her work in standup comedy with Adolph Green and Betty Comden to her playing opposite Katherine Hepburn in Adam's Rib; and from her relationship with her mother to her relationship with Peter Lawford. And Sloan has done it all with a deft light touch which preserves the basic comedic brilliance of Judy's life.
But if Sloan deserves credit for creating this vehicle, an equal amount must go to Marina Squerciati, who brings the role of Judy Holliday to life. A bleeding-heart kneejerk liberal on matters of world affairs but a distant uninvolved mother when it came to her own son, an intellectually gifted woman but a ditzy blonde when it suited her, a wannabe writer and director contending a disdain for the acting profession who nonetheless achieved her greatest success as a comedic-actor, Holliday incorporated in her persona all of the confusing, infuriating, contradictory attributes that define humanity. And Marina Squerciati does a superb job in bringing all this out.
The other three cast members are all deserving of considerable praise as well. Mary Gutzi plays the role of Helen, Judy's mother, with humor and charm – and boasts a wonderful singing voice to boot. Catherine LeFrere plays all the other women in the show – no easy task when the list ranges from Katherine Hepburn to Betty Comden to Dorothy Kilgallen to Gloria Swanson – and LeFrere succeeds deliciously. And Adam Harrington plays an even greater number of men - including Adolph Green, Harry Cohn, John Daly, Peter Lawford, Orson Welles and Jimmy Durante - and does so with equal success and considerable aplomb.
(Just In Time - The Judy Holliday Story plays at The SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street, through August 28th. Remaining performances are Wednesday 8/18 at 7pm, Friday 8/20 at 6:15pm, Thursday 8/26 at 7:15pm, and Saturday 8/28 at 2:45pm. For more information visit www.thejudyhollidaystory.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)