Theatre Review: ‘My Old Lady’ at New Phoenix Theatre

Pictured left to right: Eileen Dugan, Anne Gayley and Richard Lambert in ‘My Old Lady’ at New Phoenix Theatre.

If you’ve followed my reviews for the last few seasons, you will know that I am a huge advocate of a good story. A good story is really the foundation that is needed to make a show memorable and enjoyable. You can have the world’s best actors, but when you have a story that no one can relate to, the entire theatre experience can be destroyed. Luckily, in New Phoenix Theatre’s opening production of the 2017-2018 season, ‘My Old Lady,’ audiences are treated to a story that is touching, funny, interesting, and most importantly, entertaining.

. . .wonderful acting and brilliant storytelling. . .Do yourself a favor, go see this show!

“My Old Lady” written by Israel Horovitz, tells the story of Mathias (Richard Lambert) who, after his father died, was bequeathed an apartment in Paris. Mathias is an unpublished author who literally has no money to his name. His plan? Go to Paris, flip the apartment, and go back to New York. His plan is foiled when it is revealed that the apartment has a pair of residents, Chloe Girard (Eileen Dugan) and her mother Mathilde Girard (Anne Gayley). They don’t have a desire to leave because of an agreement Mathias’ father made with Mathilde, which stated that he would pay for her rent and apartment fees until she dies. She’s 92. As time passes, Mathias finds the truth of the agreement, and must decide what is more important, money, or love.

The New Phoenix production of ‘My Old Lady’ is refreshing and extremely enjoyable. Director Michael Lodick mounts a production that engrosses the audience in a study of the human condition. The story moves, and you are instantly interested in the characters and have no trouble relating to them. The story might be a little far fetched, but your suspension of disbelief is fully enacted during this wonderful evening of entertainment.

Richard Lambert leads the show as Mathias. Lambert does a terrific job bringing the pain of his character’s past to the stage, but complements it with amazing comic relief. While some of Lambert’s character traits are depressing looking for. Lambert gives an entertaining performance that does not disappoint.

Anne Gayley brings a powerful performance to the stage as Mathilde. Gayley takes on the role of a saucy little old lady, and the audience instantly loves her. Her storytelling is fantastic, and her comedic chops are sharp. She is a joy to watch.

And finally, Eileen Dugan plays the role of Chloe. Dugan takes on the role of the overly protective daughter in this piece, and pulls out all the stops in doing so. Her chemistry with Gayley on stage is fantastic, but the tension that she builds with Lambert is really what makes this story build. She does a wonderful job in this role.

I must point out the effect set design by Chris Wilson. The set gives us just enough detail to be active theatre goers, and allows for us to use our imaginations to fill in the blanks.

Out of everything in the production, my only concern was the rather long scene changes, but this is a small price to pay to see wonderful acting and brilliant storytelling taking place. New Phoenix starts their season off on a high note. Do yourself a favor, go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours with one 15 Minute Intermission.

“My Old Lady” runs until October 7, 2017 and is presented at New Phoenix Theatre on the Park in Buffalo. For more information, click here.

 

First Look: ‘My Old Lady’ at New Phoenix Theatre

When it comes to Buffalo, it is not uncommon to hear ‘there is always a Buffalo connection.’ It probably has to do with the fact that Buffalo is one large living room. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone has a story as to how they know, or once knew, everyone. Buffalo in general has this unique way of casting a spell over it’s residents and making sure that there is a sense of pride about being from here and knowing your fellow neighbors. When it comes to the theatre community of Buffalo, it is one smaller living room. Relationships are made and last a long time because the community is so strong. This can be said for the nearly thirty theatre companies that mount productions annually in the city. One company, that has been mounting productions for over the last two decades, is New Phoenix Theatre.

“It is our twenty-two year anniversary season,’ says Richard Lambert, the executive director of New Phoenix Theatre, “we are celebrating a home-coming and welcoming back many people in the theatre community who got their start here.”

They kick off their first show of the 2017-2018 season, “My Old Lady” by Isreal Horowitz. “We wanted to go back to the beginning of where we started, says Lambert, “we are excited to have Anne Gayley and Eileen Dugan back on stage, both of whom starred in the first show here.” Lambert is referring to the New Phoenix’s inaugural production of “Keely and Du” in 1996.

Director Michael Lodick says that he was looking for a play that would be a good fit to bring Gayley back to the New Phoenix stage. “Anne is the Maggie Smith of Buffalo, and when I read this script, I knew it was right for her.”

“I had watched a film called, “My Old Lady,” says Lodick, “and in the credits it said that it was based on Isreal Horovitz’s stage play. I knew that this story was one that I wanted to explore.”

“My Old Lady” tells the story of a man who is bequeathed an apartment in Paris, but who finds that he must live there with an elderly woman who has lived there for many decades.

This is Lodick’s directorial debut at the theatre. His work with the company is primarily as a set designer. “This is a great joy to be directing here,” says Lodick, “I love the space as a designer. I love the space from the audience standpoint, and it is a great privilege to be working with Anne, Eileen  and Richard on this stage.”

“My Old Lady” is just one of many regional premieres this season in Buffalo. “All families and extended families have different versions of history, and those results when discussed are monumental. Three characters in the show think they know the past, but they really don’t,” says Lodick, who adds that the show has many relatable elements that audiences will be able to connect with. “We all know our own particular truths.”

“My Old Lady” opens on September 15, 2017 and runs until October 7, 2017. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance of Buffalo.