13 Things: Review Roundup

Penny Fuller

After a developmental production at the O’Neill Theater Center this summer, the new one-act solo musical 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti, based on the final section of Jeffrey Hatcher’s 1995 play Three Viewings, has opened Off-Broadway at 59E59 to mixed reviews, positive for Fuller’s performance but negative-leaning for Kleinbort’s material. The creative team includes Barry Kleinbort (book, lyrics, music, direction), Paul Greenwood (music direction), Matt Berman (lights), Brad Berridge (sound), and Alexander Woodward (set). The cast includes Penny Fuller (Virginia) and Paul Greenwood (piano).

David Gordon (Theater Mania): Throughout the musical’s 60-minute duration, the skilled Fuller, who is joined on the miniscule platform-of-a-stage by her (generally) silent accompanist Paul Greenwood, gives a master class in how to translate emotion in song through facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. … The larger question regarding 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti is whether or not it works as a musical. In this particular production, with its messy cabaret style seating, it’s unclear. … Still, watching a performance as technically flawless as Fuller’s makes the experience totally worthwhile.

Alan Miller (A Seat on the Aisle): To the extent that the musical sticks to the original play, it is fun to see. Penny Fuller does a first-rate job in a demanding role and Paul Greenwood brings a light hearted charm to his part. But, unfortunately, converting the play into a musical didn’t bring anything special to the mix. The score is pleasant but derivative and the lyrics sophomoric at worst and unmemorable at best. The show is definitely worth seeing and if you go, I think you’ll enjoy it, but that will be despite the music, not because of it.

Oscar Moore (From the Rear Mezzanine): Ms. Fuller is a charmer, an excellent actress with a fine singing voice. But she is just too smart. She comes across as much too sophisticated and well, smart. I never bought the fact that she could have been so easily fooled. … Ms. Fuller handles the various voices that she is called on to use very well, supplying humor … and changing her moods spontaneously to tell this touching and heartwarming story. … Go with a loved one, celebrate your time together over a cocktail and enjoy the wonderful gifts of Penny Fuller.

David A. Rosenberg (Back Stage): The musical adaptation is more illustrative of the text than necessary to it. Breaking into song distracts rather than amplifies, although the score by itself is not without merit. But the tuner proves awkward, the songs shoehorned in. … Penny Fuller is engaging without being sentimental, showing grit and bravery in the face of threats. The character’s defiance contrasts with the actor’s pixyish mien. … Fuller finds the character’s complexities, making her a combination of naiveté, humor, fear, and determination. The talented Kleinbort … proves himself a musical theater scribe to watch. Unfortunately, “13” is not his lucky number.

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