Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taking on Shaw's 'Candida' in 'A Minister's Wife'

Eugene Marchbanks (Bobby Steggert) with his ladylove, Candida (Kate Fry), in "A Minister's Wife." Photos by Paul Kolnik.


love triangle in “A Minister’s Wife,” a musical more or less faithfully adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida,” is a bit square.

It pits a young whelp of a rich romantic poet, Eugene Marchbanks (Bobby Steggert) against Candida’s (Kate Fry) husband, the Rev. James Mavor Morrell (Marc Kudisch).

In “A Minister’s Wife,” the easy domesticity in the Morrell household is disrupted by Eugene’s bold puppy love. The musical runs through 12 June in the arena staging of the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, where it does not seem perfectly at home. It might have been better served in a proscenium presentation.

Poet Eugene Marchbanks (Bobby Steggert) and the Rev. James Mavor Morrell (Marc Kudisch) love the same woman for possibly different reasons in “A Minister’s Wife.”

In any case in "A Minister's Wife," it is Candida who gives her husband James his strength, supports his Socialist evangelism and envelops him in her warmth. While Candida provides the moral center of the house, James is assisted in his pursuits for a better world by the devotion of his doting secretary, Miss Prosperine “Prossy” Garnett (Liz Baltes) and his stalwart curate, the Rev. Alexander “Lexy” Mills (Drew Gehling)

The tension in “A Minister’s Wife” begins when Eugene confronts James about Candida’s love. At first, James is amused by his presumption, then he comes to doubt himself and Candida. (See a video at Graceful and affectionate Candida makes it possible for James, on the frontlines of Socialist thought, to pursue his work and passions. However, there is more ardor in his preaching than in his relationship with his wife.

While all the characters in “A Minister’s Wife” are exceptionally well portrayed, BS stands out for the beauty of his voice and the captivating insolence of his performance.

The Rev. James Mavor Morrell (Marc Kudisch) with his Socialist colleagues, the Rev. Alexander “Lexy” Mills (Drew Gehling) and Miss Prosperine “Prossy” Garnett (Liz Baltes) in “A Minister’s Wife.”

“A Minister’s Wife,” like the play from which it is taken, is a pocket-sized, dainty thing, much unlike the brash and bold musicals audiences have come to expect. The music composed for a quartet playing behind the stage is low-key and understated and the lyrics serve to further and highlight the story.

The charm of “A Minister’s Wife” lies in its quiet, dissonance.

Visit for more information about “A Minister’s Wife.”

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at .