I always love when a random show pops up on the community theatre circuit. It breathes new life into a scene that may run the same show too many times. Some would probably consider BroadHollow Theatre Company's presentation of Willy Russell's Tony Award winning play Shirley Valentine a risk, but they pulled it off excellently.
Running through January 20th at the BayWay Theatre in Islip, this Patricia Zaback directed incarnation stars Long Island theatre vet Linda May as Shirley Valentine. This one-woman play follows Shirley, a married housewife, as she ponders her hum-drum life in Liverpool realizing she wants more. This opportunity arrives when Shirley's best friend wins a trip for two to Greece. Shirley decides to join her and is joyously overwhelmed by these new experiences (more than she could have dreamed of) and her new found sense of self.
Ms. May was a wonderful Shirley. In this production, it is easy to see why she is one of Long Island top actresses. She had extensive training by Lesley Wade to perfect her Liverpool dialect. There were some fleeting moments where it faded, but Ms. May quickly got back on track. Another highlight was her impressions of friends and family members mentioned throughout the show. Each one had very distinctive voices and personalities. The great diversity was impressive. Above everything, however, she made you feel all the trials that Shirley was going through to her eventual happiness.
The set was minimal, yet effective. A yellow and white colored kitchen was used for the first act. It was a typical sub-urban kitchen with stainless steel appliances and small table and chair set. For the second act, when Shirley gets to Greece, a curtain with a beautiful seascape hung behind Shirley as she is narrating the story.
It was great to see the audience fascinated by the whole production. Of course, because it is so relatable. People were nodding their heads as Shirley was telling her story. As we get older, we look back and sometimes yearn for more out of life.
BroadHollow's well-done production of Shirley Valentine may not be an explosive, glitzy show; but it is real, told beautifully, and stars a wonderful and engaging actress; all the makings for an emotional night of theatre rather than talking to the wall.
Shirley Valentine is presented by the BroadHollow Theatre Company at the BayWay Theatre through January 20th. By Willy Russell; Directed by Patricia Zaback; Set Design by Bob Butterley; Lighting Design by Erick Creegan; Costume Design by Jason Allyn. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 581-2700 or visit www.broadhollow.org.