John Morogiello has a thing for redheads, and his play, while not filled with gut-busting laughs, is witty, quirky, entertaining, and somehow, someway, manages to add in a splash of drama.
A Thing for Redheads embarks on a hilarious—yet tragic—journey with two brothers, a pop-singer, and a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Three of them are redheads (one brother, the singer, and the writer), and one of them (Peter) has a thing for redheads.
Peter (Ian Blackwell Rogers) is the executive editor of the small publishing business that his brother Stanley (Jim Gagne) and writer Bobbie (Lori Boyd) work for. It is a tangle of love and lust, that only becomes more complicated when the doe-eyed pop-star, Jessie Morgan (Charlene V. Smith), trots onto the scene. Jessie hires the publishing company to write her autobiography (alluding to the young woman’s ever present intellect), and Peter immediately devises a way to hop into bed with her. She is a redhead, after all. The brilliant Bobbie continues to pine for Peter, who we learn has been stringing her along for some time, and Stanley dreams of a day when he and Bobbie can be together. Yes, the situation is a bit hairy. Har, har. But, things become so tangled that no spritz of Pantene Pro-V and wide-toothed comb could detangle.
The script is creative and genuine; Morogiello has crafted characters that are accessible, yet shy away from being stereotypical. Each of the characters is quirky in his or her own personal way, and the strong cast works as a unit to carry out the plot. Gagne as Stanley has an explosive energy on stage, limping around yelling about his brother and failed attempts to win over Bobbie. However, he manages to incite a small pathos from the crowd, avoiding sappiness. Foiling Stanley is Peter (Rogers). Rogers plays a calm and confident Peter, stumbling over his character flaws and trying to hide his short-comings. Though there are certainly no weak links—the entire cast is strong—the women in A Thing for Redheads really drive the show.
With a touch of Miley Cyrus and a dash of Britney Spears, Charlene V. Smith as pop star Jessie Morgan is poppin’ and lockin’ it, as she croons a hilarious song about Peter, dramatically describing the camera angles in her music video: “butt shot,” “pouty face shot,” “pouty face with wagging finger shot!” Morogiello’s words couldn’t be more accurate as they tear apart the formula behind teeny-bopper idols, while Smith adds a terrifyingly realistic embodiment of the vapid stars that currently grace the covers of entertainment rags.
Boyd as Bobbie anchors the show. Though humorous at times, Bobbie has many levels. She is brilliant, but pitiful. She is a writer whose Achilles heel is her own editor and publisher. Bobbie is a bit eccentric, but with the caress of Boyd’s performance, the audience is drawn into her teetering insanity.
The twisting turns of drama are a bit odd at times, but for the most part Redheads is comical and entertaining. The pace is quick, and the script is tight. Let your hair down, don’t think too hard, and enjoy the show.
A Thing for Redheads
Written by John Morogiello
Directed by Juliana Avery
Reviewed by Caitlin DeMerlis