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Friday, March 24, 2006

Sarah Rudinoff: Genius Confirmed

Posted by on March 24 at 13:05 PM


It’s no secret: We here at The Stranger, along with many other people, think local performer Sarah Rudinoff is a genius.

After seeing Rudinoff in last night’s opening of Wonderful Town—5th Avenue Theater’s Leonard Bernstein musical revival, of which Rudinoff is one of the leads and the indisputable star—I’m struck again by how fucking lucky we are to have her in our midst.

To those who suspect The Stranger of a pro-Rudinoff bias, so be it. But I watched with my own eyes last night as the entire audience of the 5th Avenue Theater fell deeply in love with her. I’m tempted to say that Wonderful Town gives Rudinoff her best showcase yet—a weird thing to say about a 60-year-old “madcap musical comedy” and an actor/writer with a well-documented soft spot for the punker aspects of performance art. Still, WT showed off sides of Rudinoff’s talent I hadn’t seen before, with Rudinoff giving a wonderfully intelligent and inventive performance in a thoroughly mainstream role.

Props as well to the other leads and the rest of the cast, who all helped make Wonderful Town way more fun that not. Yeah, the show’s fluffy by design, but there’s some grit to the story (Billie Wildrick’s charming Eileen spends the majority of Act 1 deflecting lighthearted rape attempts), and one of the show’s fluffiest scenes is also one of the best. (That gloriously stupid conga number—where Rudinoff is tossed about by marauding sailors—almost made me weep with glee.)

I’ll leave the rest of the critiquing to Christopher Frizzelle, who’ll be writing about the show in next week’s issue. For now, this fact: It’s not often you get to see live performances like the ones routinely given by Sarah Rudinoff, and you should catch ‘em while you can. (The 5th Ave has some good cheap side balcony seats.)

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I second that. I saw it last night too, and she totally made the show. The show itself is definitely an "old" book musical and goes on for way too long in parts, but I was actually really impressed with some of the dialogue, it seemed really fresh. Or maybe it was her delivery...
Could have used a better choreographer, but all in all a pleasure to watch this showcase for Ms. Rudinoff.

I remember after her first number in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" last season, someone in the row behind me whispered to their companion, "who IS that?" I just sat there and smiled to myself, because of course - I KNEW.

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