Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Signature Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End and Salomé

Donna Migliaccio and Desi Oakley
Photo by Christopher Mueller
Tween and teen girls who fantasize about pop music stardom might be the perfect audience for Girlstar, the musical in a world premiere production at MAX Theatre at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Otherwise, a juicy performance by Donna Migliaccio is not enough to compensate for the confused plotting in this tale of success and magic by Anton Dudley (book and lyrics) and Brian Feinstein (music).

The backstory, laid out at the beginning of the show, involves an ambitious girl who envies her younger sister's musical talent, which she steals (destroying the sister's life along the way) through a process involving a mysterious green elixir and a snake. However, the sister leaves behind a baby daughter, Tina (Desi Oakley), who grows up to love music as much as her mother did. The older sister becomes a genius music producer named Daniella Espere (Migliaccio), using her dark arts to create the ultimate pop star—and now Tina is ready for that role. (Daniella could conceivably have used the star-making spell on herself, but she didn't. By the way, who and where is Tina's father?)

Daniella educates Tina in the perils of show biz by pitting the newcomer against two current stars, hot singer Piper (Diana Huey) and sleek dancer Neela (Jamie Eacker), for the chance to headline an upcoming show. Meanwhile, Daniella has set up Tina in a penthouse suite in New York City's Plaza Hotel, where she develops an awkward friendship with bellboy and aspiring songwriter Jeff (Sam Edgerly).

As directed by Eric Schaeffer, Migliaccio walks off with the show in her sleek black wig (designed by Anne Nesmith) and chic but reptilian black costumes by Frank Labovitz, oozing her way around Paul Tate dePoo III's modular set and tossing off lines like "A woman of my stature can't afford to sleep." Oakley is certainly game, but her character is overmatched for most of the plot. Eacker and especially Huey shine in roles that one wishes were larger and Bobby Smith gives a dignified performance as the traumatized twin brother of Tina's mother.

Signature Theatre
October 13th - November 15th
Book & Lyrics by Anton Dudley
Music by Brian Feinstein
Daniella Espere: Donna Migliaccio
Tina: Desi Oakley
Uncle Derek: Bobby Smith
Piper: Diana Huey
Neela: Jamie Eacker
Jeff: Sam Edgerly
The Esperes: Kellee Knighten Hough, Nora Palka, Bayla Whitten
Directed by Eric Schaeffer
Choreography by Lorin Latarro
Music direction by Adam Wachter
MAX Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-820-9771 or 1-800-955-5566 or

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