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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Abingdon Mainstage Theatre

By Matt Windman

  The cast of “The People vs. Mona

Upon entering the Abingdon Theatre to attend The People v. Mona, we are handed paper fans, supposedly courtesy of the kind folks at Frog Pad, Georgia's local funeral parlor. As soon as the musical begins, inept defense attorney Jim Summerford (Richard Binder) plays narrator, spilling gossip about the big trial. The rest of the musical consists mainly of meeting the town's inhabitants, who get grilled by Summerford and prosecuting attorney Mavis Frye (Karen Culp), who also happens to be Summerford's fiancee.

Take, for instance actor Omri Scheim, who plays no fewer than four witnesses including dentist Dr. Bloodweather, 96-year old lawyer Euple R. Pugh and Indian hotel owner Patel, each of whom is played up to big laughs as numerous caricatures. Or, take Natalie Douglas, who sits away most of the show as Judge Ella Jordan, then later breaks into the showstopper, "You Done Forget Your Bible" as Reverend Rosetta Purify.

This silly, plainly titled show trial comes courtesy of married composers Jim Wann and Patricia Miller. Like Wann's popular revue Pump Boys and Dinettes, The People v. Mona is built on a foundation of country music that grows into gospel, blues, jazz, showtunes and even a law school anthem.

Fining out which Frog Pad inhabitant actually committed the murder in question is probably the least interesting part of the entire musical. What we are really meant to take away from Kate Middleton's production is the silly, simple fun of the broad comedy and catchy songs. Even though its run is expected to end August 4, I'd expect the show to live on in amateur theater.


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