Charlotte Patton - Cabaret Singer, Unstoppable ActorCharlotte Patton - Reviews

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Director: Karen Oberlin
Musical Director: Barry Levitt

“I made it to Charlotte Patton's show at THE DUPLEX and it indeed was a thrilling evening. . . . . With Barry Levitt as musical director, and Karen Oberlin as director, Charlotte gathered a great team for her re-entry into the live entertainment arena! And a great show with a great mix of songs and patter.” – Stu Hamstra, Cabaret Hotline Online

"She is an actress-singer who takes a fresh perspective on nearly every song she tackles, and she does so deftly, with lightness and grace—but also with considerable assurance. She knows what position she wants to take on each selection and how to put her point across. Song after song, I found myself with such thoughts as 'I've never heard that take before,' or 'the song works so well this way,' or 'what a terrific line delivery.'" - Roy Sander, Bistro Awards
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"With cabaret singer Karen Oberlin doing a fine job as her director, and Musical Director Barry Levitt providing great arrangements, Patton's Looking for Love in the 21st Century, was a warm, humorous, self-revealing, and relatable show from an experienced actor and comedienne with a sweet alto, who also knows all about the vagaries of life and love." - Stephen Hanks,
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“Looking for Love in the 21st Century” is funny, and wry, and delivers many truths in both song and tongue-in-cheek musings." - Paulanne Simmons, Times Square Chronicles
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Heather J. Violanti · July 10, 2010

An inconvenient truth threatens to tear a family—and small town—apart in Fracturing, Deanna Neil's contemporary adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. A scientist, Dr. Stockmann, discovers that newly drilled gas wells are contaminating her town's water supply. When the mayor, who happens to be her brother, tries to suppress her findings, the political becomes personal. Dr. Stockmann must choose between making peace with her brother, or taking a stand for the greater good.

Ibsen's play revolved around male protagonists; in Neil's version, pointedly, many of the main players are female. Ibsen's Dr. Thomas Stockmann is now Dr. Thomasin Stockmann, a working mother who balances raising three children with her job as a research scientist. The imperious local newspaper publisher is now a commanding if absent-minded woman, and the meddlesome father-in-law of Ibsen's original is now a prying mother-in-law. This gender shift adds more layers to the conflict, particularly in the power struggle between Dr. Stockmann and her brother, Peter, and in the catty exchanges between Dr. Stockmann and her female opposition.

Neil stays true to Ibsen's essential outline while employing a story ripped from current headlines, the controversy over hydraulic fracturing (nicknamed "fracking") in upstate New York's Marcellus Shale region. (For a more detailed explanation of fracking, click here.) Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of sand, water, and chemicals underground at high pressure to release natural gas trapped deep within the earth. The process is seen by some as a safe alternative energy source, but studies have shown some of the chemicals involved may be toxic and thus affect groundwater. The contamination to the Marcellus Shale's water supply affects more than just the region, as it supplies the drinking water to New York City, a point repeatedly mentioned in Fracturing.

In the play, Dr. Stockmann wants to stop drilling immediately, but as mayor, her brother does not want to offend local business interests. The battle is muddied when people begin to question the ethics of either side: Was it right for the gas company to drill so close to the water reservoir using a potentially dangerous process? Was Dr. Stockmann right to do her research on her own, and in secret, without a committee to back her up?

Neil's program note explains "there are no good guys—which also means there are no bad guys either, by the way." While she gives generous equal time to each viewpoint, the play can't help but side with Dr. Stockmann, making her opponents come pretty close to the one-dimensional "bad" guys they're not supposed to be. True, the ethics of Dr. Stockmann's research are questioned, but this comes primarily from the play's ditziest and sleaziest characters, so it's hard to take seriously. While conservative Mayor Peter pokes fun of the town's liberal newspaper twice, any struggle between liberal and conservative—one of the biggest fissures in American politics today—remains muted here. What you get instead is curious detached politeness. For all its impassioned rhetoric, Fracturing is strangely dispassionate. It's not so much a debate as measured contemplation. I admit I'm on Dr. Stockmann's side—but I wanted to gain insight into the minds of her opponents, to question my own pre-held assumptions. I wanted to be provoked, but Fracturing is more polite than provocative.

Still, it's presented with professional precision that rivals anything found in larger companies with bigger budgets. Maura Farver directs with cool assurance, and scenes bleed seamlessly into each other. The excellent ensemble creates a palpable sense of community. Tamara Flannagan makes a committed, intelligent Dr. Stockmann, while Andrew Langton is a commanding, supportive presence as her husband. Timur Kocak finds complexity within Peter, and Charlotte Patton provides welcome comic relief as Alexis, the ditzy newspaper publisher who preaches moderation in all things, especially politics.

Set designers Josh Zangen and Sean Ryan Jennings have created a wondrously open playing space, backed by a wall that literally breaks apart with each new crack in the community's facade. Summer Lee Jack's intelligent and flattering costumes create a precise sense of character. Sound designer Palmer Heffernan's elegantly anxious soundscape underscores the play's simmering conflict.

Fracturing succeeds on its own modest terms as a contemporary reinterpretation of An Enemy of the People. It may not debate the issue with the rigor it intends, but it nevertheless educates and entertains, a rare combination.

MARRIAGE PLAYCharlotte Patton in "The Marriage Play"
By Edward Albee
Triangle Theatre, Philadelphia
Directed by Ed Chemaly

“Patton's is an unnerving portrayal, and she plays off [him] beautifully, denying and denouncing him before finally reaching the disquieting conclusion that their marriage may indeed be over.” – Philadelphia Weekly

“The Marriage Play pits two middle-aged, highly articulate married people against each other, and Michael Horowitz and Charlotte Patton are pitch perfect. . . .This knockout production of Marriage Play, a rarely performed work by Edward Albee, gets a brief reprise before moving on to a theater festival in Maine. It stars its superb original cast, Charlotte Patton and Michael Horowitz. . . . In the original Triangle production, the two actors delivered it all with the ease and venom of well-seasoned opponents.” – Toby Zinman, Philadelphia Citypaper

“Every successful theater company fondly recalls the production that put it on the artistic map. For the Triangle Theater, that show was Three Short Plays About Love and Romance. . . .If you didn't have a chance to catch the production, you can enjoy one of the strongest parts of that triple-header with Random Acts' remounting of Edward Albee's Marriage Play. Featuring revelatory performances from Horowitz and Patton, what makes the short play so disquieting is the palpable sense of emptiness lurking just beneath the couple's cool, disdainful exchanges.” – J. Cooper, Philadelphia Weekly


THE THEORY OF COLOR Charlotte Patton in "The Marriage Play"

By Lella Heins
The Medicine Show Theatre

“Mrs. Van Damm, typical Hamptons wife and chair of the island's medical committee (played with impeccable comic timing by Charlotte Patton) has the best lines of the evening.” – Summer Banks,


SYMPATHETIC DIVISION Charlotte Patton in "The Marriage Play"
Charlotte Patton in "The Marriage Play"Abingdon Theatre

“Charlotte Patton’s performance was extremely
powerful and layered and showed a multi-faceted
r who was both humorous and
heartbreaking to watch. She is a very s
killed actor
who is clearly at home on the stage.” – Paul J.
Michael, NY Director and owner of The Network

"Charlotte Patton's performance was riveting and
powerful. She was so believable that I was physically shaken by the experience." – Jill Strickman-Ripps, Strickman-Ripps Inc. Casting and Research


PHILADELPHIA CITYPAPER FEBRUARY 20-26, 2003 Charlotte Patton in "The Marriage Play"
Three plays at Triangle Theater
by Toby Zinman

What a triumph for Jane Stojak's new Triangle Theater: three fine plays, all by famous playwrights. Each is interesting, clever and performed by mature actors who have complete command of their material.

The Marriage Play by Edward Albee stands about equidistant in time between his two splendid dramatic meditations on marriage, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? from the '60s and The Goat, last year's huge hit. In the same spirit, The Marriage Play pits two middle-aged, highly articulate married people against each other, and Michael Horowitz and Charlotte Patton are pitch perfect.

Elegant, intimate and immensely fed up with each other's predictable schtick, he waxes eloquent, she mocks. He cheats, she tolerates. She cheats, he is wounded. Their conversation depends on timing and style, and with the ease and venom of well-seasoned opponents, they have at each other ("Do you try to vex me?" "Only when you really want me to"). Their refrain runs something like, "What do you mean?" "What do you mean what do I mean?" It's both utterly realistic and bizarrely stylized.

Husband and wife each gets a long monologue: Hers is honeymoon reminiscence, perhaps nostalgic, perhaps not -- Patton's ambiguity of tone (heartbroken? ironic?) never tips. As she finishes, he slings out, "Stop vamping, you wanton bitch." His monologue is filled with longing for his youthful beauty and charm, and Horowitz subtly modulates this through every stage from earnest passion to self-bemusement. The two actors have the difficult task of a big physical brawl -- slapping, knocking each other down, rolling around on the floor -- in a tiny playing space very close to the audience, but the illusion is never broken.

The final silent tableau is a testimony to the excellence of Ed Chemaly's direction; the two sit side by side on a cream-colored love seat, each in a shade of white shirt and black slacks; they face away from each other.

Don't miss this one.




Size Matters
In the past, Philadelphia's large and midsized theaters have ruled the roost. With a few exceptions (Pig Iron Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories, Brat Productions), most of the top productions have come from the area's established companies. But this season there are signs of all that changing. Now that the less-established venues have been vindicated by the year's best musical production and performance to date (David Colbert in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Painted Bride Art Center) and the season's most exciting play (Theater Catalyst's Nocturne), you can chalk another one up for small companies with Three Short Plays About Love and Romance at the Triangle Theater.

A triple bill covering two nights or one long Sunday afternoon, the production appears to mark a turning point in the fortunes of the fledgling Northern Liberties performance space. Now in its first full season, the theater's resident company, Random Acts of Theater, has had its growing pains, but with their current productions of Edward Albee's Marriage Play, A.R. Gurney's The Problem and Anton Chekhov's The Proposal, they have emerged seemingly overnight as an important player in Philadelphia theater.
Two Can Play
The bell rings and out they come, a pair of heavyweight fighters armed with insults, infidelities and epiphanies. For 70 minutes they battle toe-to-toe, two desperate but well-trained professionals locked in the ultimate cage match--a 30-year marriage. It's a bloody, messy affair, and in the impressive Random Acts of Theater production, Edward Albee's often-slighted Marriage Play gets the weight it deserves. Directed with visceral elegance by Ed Chemaly, the match begins with Husband (Michael Horowitz) arriving home from a "middling day" to announce he's leaving Wife (Charlotte Patton). He has, he tells us, become "aware." Aware of his animal instincts, aware of "the proper conclusions" and aware of the "future."

Wife, engrossed in a book she's written about their marriage in which 30 years of cohabitation has been reduced to "3,000 fucks," greets his news with mock indifference. But while her reaction to his announcement is initially satirical, the institution she treats so cavalierly at first is not easily dismissed. The couple's sexual fervor may have long since faded, but as Wife observes, the relationship's passion has only changed form. These alternative passions have occupied Albee throughout his career (having recently taken the form of bestiality in The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?), and as Husband and Wife circle each with varying degrees of separation, the play's central question emerges: Does marriage betray or support individual freedom?

For Husband the question is answered before the play begins, and while the Friday night performance initially showed the rust of a snow-induced two-week layoff, Horowitz communicates Husband's desperation and newfound awareness with the wide-eyed wonder of a man who has just discovered the meaning of life.

Patton's is an unnerving portrayal, and she plays off it beautifully, denying and denouncing him before finally reaching the disquieting conclusion that their marriage may indeed be over. Albee isn't about to provide us with any answers, but instead leaves us to ponder this institution of marriage as Husband and Wife sit on opposite ends of the couch, staring off into the unknown.


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