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Theatre Review (LA): No Way To Treat A Lady by Douglas J. Cohen at the Colony Theatre

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A delightful musical, No Way To Treat A Lady, is having its Los Angeles premiere at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. No Way To Treat A Lady is based on the cult movie by the same name that starred Rod Steiger, Lee Remick, and George Segal. The book, music, and lyrics are by Douglas Cohen. The musical is co-directed by West Hyler and Shelley Butler.

The plot hinges on the story of a failed actor/serial killer who is hung up on his mother, a famous but now dead stage actress. Feeling that he never amounted to anything, the killer, Christopher “Kit” Gill, sets out to kill a series of older women, using various disguises to intrude on their lives (a dance instructor, an Irish priest named Father Barry Fitzgerald, even a shy young girl). His goal is to get into the New York Times.

Along the way we encounter the ambitious Detective Morris Brummel, who also has mother issues: his berates him for being less successful than his brother the doctor. Their lives become entangled and the killer ends up trying to strangle Brummel’s new girlfriend. The story is played mainly for laughs, without much suspense.

The handsome Jack Noseworthy, who makes an attractive woman, plays the campy self-hating actor. He has a wonderful singing voice, though I must admit I wished he were more actor than singer. He settled for surface disguises without creating unique characters. The talented Heather Lee, however, creates a whole slew of older characters, playing all the victims and both mothers. What’s really great is that these characters are fully inhabited.

Erica Piccininni plays Brummel’s patient new girlfriend. She has a lovely voice and creates a sympathetic character. One of my favorite actors, Kevin Symonds, plays the hapless detective. Mr. Symonds is remarkable in that he acts as well as–or perhaps even better than–he sings. He is the perfect put-upon Everyman and is always a joy to watch, his characters always interesting and detailed.

Hyler and Butler's direction is interesting enough; though hampered by the cramped quarters, they do very well considering. The music and lyrics are catchy but not ultimately memorable. But overall the evening is enjoyable and you should be entertained by this talented cast. No Way To Treat A Lady plays at the Colony Theatre until May 17th.

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