continued Polly not only fully embodies the well-meaning ne’er-do-well Stanley, he’s also an enthusiastic team-player in lively dialogues with Hintz and Arlington.
As mature sisters Kate and Blanche, actresses Betsy York and Lesley Heisler make their CNY Playhouse debuts in “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” While Heisler studied musical theater at SUNY New Paltz a generation ago, York lists no previous credits, yet both ladies create multidimensional characters whose maternal instincts sometimes trump their better judgment.
York’s Kate is at her cynical best when uttering metropolitan maxims like “Stay on your own side of the street. That’s what gutters are for.” Heisler’s Blanche runs the gamut from pathetic to triumphant. The first act of the play emphasizes comedy while drama dominates the second act as the older sisters argue, Stanley contemplates suicide, Jack suffers a heart attack, and Nora pouts about her dashed theatrical career.
Griffin carries a particularly heavy load as Nora’s dancing aspirations become an issue for all concerned. The young actress admirably walks that fine line between disappointment and resentment. Likewise, Miller’s Laurie may be a bookworm, but she’s also a mischievous imp, a 13-year-old who clearly grasps the grownups’ fears and foibles.
The entire ensemble utilizes Brooklyn accents which may not be perfect, but they’re pretty darn close and add immeasurably to the play’s urban ambiance.
“Brighton Beach Memoirs” continues at CNY Playhouse, near the Macy’s entrance at Shoppingtown Mall, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 18, 19 and 20, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21, and 8 p.m. April 25, 25 and 27. Tickets cost $15 Thursdays and Sundays and $20 on Fridays for show only, or $34.95 for dinner and show on Saturdays; 885-8960; cnyplayhouse.com.