Oscar E Moore

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The Sphinx Winx – Up the Nile without a paddle

May 19th, 2011 by Oscar E Moore

Cleopatra isn’t the only person bored in this new musical “The Sphinx Winx” that has just opened at the Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row.  The creators of this lame production are as follows:  Philip Capice, Anne Hitchner, Kenneth Hitchner, Jr. and Robert Keuch – book and lyrics – who is responsible for what is anyone’s guess.

The sometimes enjoyable music of various styles harking back to the age of the all but forgotten television special is by Kenneth Hitchner, Jr.   Cleopatra herself sums it up with a lyric towards the end of the show from “Goodbye Julius” after an endless courtroom scene -“But most suitors drape their ladies out in minks.  And you have only offered me a Sphinx.  That Winx.  Which Stinks.”  Case closed.

The slight plot all but evaporates under the hot Egyptian sun.  Marc Antony (Bret Shuford) arrives from Rome to collect some overdue taxes from Julius Caesar (Bruce Sabbath) who has been lavishing silly gifts of gold on his wife of twelve years the vain and silly Cleopatra (Erika Amato). The Soothsayer (an over the top Ryan Williams) has foretold this.  What he hasn’t foretold is that Marc Antony will fall in love with Cleopatra’s slave girl Crecia (Rebecca Riker).  Caesar tries to distract Antony with his annoying daughter Lunia (Beth Cheryl Tarnow) with her very bad singing.  The whole concept in inept and ridiculous.  And not in a funny way.  Even the asp is uncooperative in Cleopatra’s attempt at suicide.

The show comes across as a combination of bad backer’s audition, bad children’s theatre and bad burlesque skit.  Perhaps there is a jinx on musicals dealing with Antony and Cleopatra.  Case in point the 1968 production of “Her First Roman” which lasted all but 17 performances starring Richard Kiley and Leslie Uggams.

There is a dream sequence where Marc Antony and Crecia dance ala Fred and Ginger by choreographer Tara Jeanne Vallee which set my mind off on its own dream sequence remembering the wonderful vaudeville number in “Side Show” where Daisy and Violet – Siamese twins sing “We Share Everything” featuring them as queens of ancient Egypt.

Unfortunately no such number arrives in “The Sphinx Winx”.  The production itself looks good.  A great set by Robert Andrew Kovach and some fun costumes by Gail Baldoni however do not offset the cannon ball direction of Matthew Hamel that leaves all his hard working actors who sometimes double and triple in their roles up the Nile without a paddle.

www.TheSphinxWinx.com Through July 24th.  Photo:  Peter James Zielinski

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