Recently, MamaDrama bloggers were invited to the legendary Walter Kerr Theatre to see The Heiress starring Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, the wonderful David Strathairn and the legendary Judith Ivey. Based on the 1880 Henry James novel Washington Square, this is a revival of the 1947 play about nineteenth century New York society. Jessica Chastain was on leave while attending a film festival in Toronto that night, and her role was assumed by Marin Lee. While many writers were initially disappointed they were all pleasantly surprised by Ms. Lee's riveting performance. Here's what some of them had to say:
Serena of Mom Trends was struck by the rich dialogue and its bitter undertones of dysfunctionality, sadness, and emotional distance. "Although the story took place in the 1800s, I was pulled into the world of The Heiress and found myself on the edge of my seat following along with its poignant dialogue, moving actors, and an incredible story that truly made for quite the memorable night out."
Jill of Glamamom was transported to another time. "Catherine, played that night by Chastain’s understudy Mairin Lee, won me over from the start with her vulnerability and naivete. I silently cheered her transformation as she discovers the power in confidence and self acceptance."
Estelle of Musings on Motherhood and Mid-life found the show to be riveting. "The costumes are beautiful, the set works to both evoke the period of Victorian times and to move the story forward."
Mary Beth of mbcoudal.com loved the show and reminisced about past versions, particularly one with Cherry Jones. "As we left the theater, I told my husband, ‘Even if Catherine had hooked up with the dude from Downtown Abbey and the marriage didn’t work out because he might’ve just loved her only for her apartment, she still might’ve gotten some awesome children out of the marriage. And that would be wonderful. That is wonderful.' "
Robin of Motherhood Later than Sooner was also transported to another era. "The show has had various incarnations of the years…….as a film and earlier stage production, neither of which I saw, so I can’t draw any comparisons. I recalled, as a student year ago, reading and enjoying Washington Square by Henry James, on which the show is based, and seeing this production brought back vivid memories of the short novel. I felt captivated and transported to the Victorian era, and it was a welcome escape."
Rochelle of Rochelle Jewel Shapiro was captivated by the feminist undertones of the play. "The story is full of Jamesian twists and turns, but all psychologically grounded. James saw clearly into the Victorian woman’s plight—her forced dependence, the power others could wield over her. It’s a tale of a woman opening her eyes to painful truths and choosing her own destiny. Is that ever stale?"
Debbie of Clever Housewife was enamored by Dan Stevens, who appears on the program "Downton Abbey". "Maybe you have heard of a little TV show called Downton Abbey? Well, Dan Stevens, Matthew Crawley himself, is appearing on stage in THE HEIRESS. What surprised me most about seeing him in person, was how really great his voice is. Mmmm, very easy on the ears. In voice, presence and movement he embodied his character, Catherine’s suitor, Mr. Morris Townsend’s every moment. He was delightful and nervous, innocent as a child at times, and strikingly calculated at others."
Lainie of Me, Myself, Baby I isn't generally a fan of Victorian drama but this show made her feel differently. "The play offers something for everyone. The audience is transported to a different time period and yet can easily relate and sympathize with the situation as it unfolds."
You still have until February 9th to catch The Heiress on Broadway. Visit the show's website for more info or to purchase tickets.