Review of The Gingerbread Lady at KTK Productions

    In its current offering, KTK Productions makes a strong case for The Gingerbread Lady, one of Neil Simon’s lesser-known plays.

    The central character is Evy Meara, a well-known singer who has just finished ten weeks of treatment for alcoholism. Act One is about her first day back from rehab. She receives visits from her two closest friends, a sweet-talking ex-lover, and her daughter.

    The friends are Jimmy Perry, an actor whose career is sputtering, and Toby Landau, an aging beauty who is trying as hard as she can to hide the effects of time on her looks. The ex-lover is a musician, Lou Tanner, who dropped Evy in the past but wants to reinsert himself into her life.

    Evy’s daughter, Polly, has been living with her father since her parents’ divorce but now wants to move in with her mother.

    In Act Two, Evy hosts a birthday party at which both her friends reveal they have just suffered crushing setbacks. These calamities are devastating for Evy, too. They propel her toward familiar, self-destructive behaviors. In Act Three, Evy tries to deal with the consequences of backsliding.

    The Gingerbread Lady is a play worth seeing. The typical Simon one-liners land well, but they do not undermine the seriousness of the story. The buildup to Evy’s relapse and her struggle to claw her way back are both finely crafted.

    Under Joan Caro’s direction, the KTK performers demonstrate a sure grip on the essence of their characters. Jackie Smith nails the volatility of Evy’s personality. Betty Oestreicher as Toby and Jim Wamser as Jim both capture their characters’ fundamental anxieties—Toby’s about her appearance, Jim’s about his career.

    As Polly, Nadia Kapetanovich convincingly portrays the love and maturity of a daughter who needs to be the adult in her relationship with her mother. Danny Brown’s Lou has the shiny but shallow appeal that attracts and endangers Evy. Mike DePope appears briefly but effectively as a young man delivering groceries.

    The production benefits from Betsy Ward’s set design, Marie Moore’s costumes, Chris O’Donovan’s lighting, Joe Moore’s sound, and Diane Slattery’s props.

    KTK’s 2022-23 season will include:

    • Two Witches, No Waiting, by Pat Cook, in October 2022
    • Fools, by Neil Simon, in March 2023
    • Sister Act, by Alan Menken, Glenn Slater, Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, and Douglas Carter Beane, in May 2023

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Joan Caro