The third show in the 2013 Asolo Repertory Theatre’s theme of “The American Character” was aptly chosen. With the “pursuit of happiness” at the core of this 1989 Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, it's as fresh and clear a cry as the first fictional Heidi yodeling for her freedom in the cool, crisp Alpine air.
This production of “The Heidi Chronicles” is entertaining, thought-provoking and relevant. The dialogue is both witty and whimsical, the characterizations both classic and comical. The acting is superbly enthusiastic with each actor totally synchronized to his part. Considered Wendy Wasserstein’s greatest play, Laura Kepley directs. Michael Clark designed the video projections, and Matt Parker designed the sound, which includes popular music to enhance each scene.
The post World War II baby boomer generation has seen more changes in the social status of women than any other in history. The phrase “can women have it all” referred to post ’50s-era women who wanted both a career and a family. But, as to actually ”having it all,” the question remains unsettled, just as the Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing lack of discrimination against women, remains ungratified to this day, with Florida being among the states that have refused to sign. Congress first passed the ERA in 1972, almost 50 years after women won the right to vote. The ERA still hasn’t been set into the constitution 40 years later.
As we watch Heidi, quite nicely played by Elizabeth King-Hall, wind her way up the treacherous trail of womanhood, during the gender-bending ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, we get some of what it must feel like to herd goats along with you. Some of the goats include terrific performances by Gail Rastorfer as Susan Johnston, Brian Sills as Peter Patrone and Zachary Fine as Scoop Rosenbaum.
Is it still more difficult to get to the top of one’s chosen career as a woman? Statistically, yes. Are men less inclined to marry women more successful or smarter than themselves? Statistically, yes. Is it just as difficult to raise children as a single woman? Statistically, yes. Well, then, what’s a girl to do if she wants true love, children and her chosen career? The answer is: Get lucky! Are we, more than 300 years since the Declaration of Independence, getting closer to true equality at last? Well, yes, finally closer, but there? Not yet.
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