Mulgrew Earns Strong Reviews as 'Our Leading Lady'By Michelle
March 26, 2007 - 9:46 PM
Our Leading Lady, the play about the actress performing at Ford's Theatre the night of Lincoln's assassination starring Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), opened last week at Manhattan Theatre Club's City Center Stage to largely positive reviews. Praise for Mulgrew's performance was near-unaninmous, though some critics found the shift in tone from the first act to the second somewhat jarring.
- "Kate Mulgrew's stints as Katharine Hepburn in 'Tea at Five' seemed to have hardwired something of Hartford's most adored daughter into the 'Star Trek: Voyager' commander," wrote The Hartford Courant's Malcolm Johnson. "Touches of Kate the Great sound here and there in Mulgrew's Laura Keene, but she also brings comic aplomb and emotive depths to the title role in 'Our Leading Lady.'" Johnson felt that the play "allows Mulgrew to show her Shakespearean panache in Portia's great 'quality of mercy' speech...Hepburn could have done it no better."
- American Theater Web's Andy Propst wished for "a more leisurely and slightly less forced staging", saying that "when the piece shifts into its slower, and more human, second, theatergoers feel almost as if they've begun watching a different play." But he added, "Thankfully, at the piece's center is Kate Mulgrew, who delights as the histrionic and melodramatic Keene during the first act, and who mines the pathos of Keene and her situation during the second half."
- "'Our Leading Lady' is far more appealing in antic rather than sincere mode," noted The New York Times' Charles Isherwood. "Loosening and then stiffening in tempo with the play's wayward fluctuations in tone, Ms. Mulgrew wonderfully embodies...Keene, with both humor and affection, as a self-regarding but dedicated artist who rose grandly to a painful occasion." He suggested that theatrical insiders might enjoy the play more than those looking for a history lesson.
- Michael Kuchwara from The Associated Press (via HappyNews.com) explained that "as played by the marvelous Mulgrew," Keene "is extravagant in action and articulation." He found the switch between acts a bit jarring after the comic histrionics at the beginning but found it adventurous and generous toward its subjects.
- Backstage's David A. Rosenberg wrote that Our Leading Lady succeeds as a study of self-centered actors but runs into problems contemplating the horrors of slavery and assassination. "Kate Mulgrew is terrific as the controlling Keene," he said, "but it's Ann Duquesnay as the mysterious servant who is the most intriguing."
- "Kate Mulgrew depicts Keene with a regal profile and an imperious air," stated Michael Sommers of The Star-Ledger. "Although the text wildly veers in tone from farce to tragedy to utter silliness...plenty of laughter wallpapers over the story's essential triviality."