Thursday November 23rd 2017

“Dirty Blonde”

To know and love Mae West, one would have to be of a certain age, so for you younger theater-goers, you might want to do a bit of homework prior to seeing “Dirty Blonde”, BoHo Theatre’s current production, at Theater Wit, the intimate new theater building located at  1229 West Belmont.In this roughly 95 minute look at the life of this extraordinary legend written by Claudia Shear, we meet two people, Charlie ( a wonderful job by David Tibble) and Jo ( divinely played by Anne Sheridan Smith, who also takes on the role of Mae herself) who are both enamoured by this lady. Charlie, as a young man was able to meet this Hollywood legend who began in Vaudeville and then went on to burlesque, a woman who made being a sex symbol okay in the minds of many. Meeting her and spending time with her changed his bland life, but only for himself ( until his later years).

Jo, a struggling actress, who meets Charlie at her burial place, begins a relationship with him based on their mutual admiration for the star and as their friendship grows, many changes take place in their loves. the story takes us back into Mae West’s early days and director Stephen M. Genovese is able to work some of his own magic in taking us on a somewhat historical look into what made this woman the legend and the love of these two characters’ lives. Theater Wit is a 99 seat intimate theater where the audience truly feels that they are peeking into what is really taking place and the simple set by Andrew Marchetti allows for quick transitions from location to location and time to time, keeping the pace of the show comfortable for the audience.

Opening night had a few small lighting errors and one or two miscues, but the quality of the performances by Smith and Tibble, plus the third actor, Nicholas Bailey who take son many roles including handling the keyboards for a few of the musical numbers far outweighs a little glitch here and there. Part of what makes this play special is that even those who have only heard of Mae West were able to learn enough about her to understand that she was driven to succeed, no matter what- or who she may have used to get there! A very sexy woman, with limited talent, She could make a simple sentence into an invitation that would make a man’s legs shaky and his heart beat faster. Ms. Smith brings this to life with a great ease. Charlie, a sort of nerd type falls in love with Ms. West in a way that is difficult to describe without giving away some of the special feelings of this wonderful “biography”.

This is a powerful theatrical piece with music that also might be considered, historical and I for one found the story filled with comedy, sadness and warm feeling for a woman that stood out among her peers and may have been greatly misunderstood as a person. Those  that loved her truly loved her and those that were turned off by her personality and character may not understand her life and how she chose to live it, but Shear manages to get into this woman’s head as well as those who were a part of her life before and after her death. BoHo  has always brought quality to the stage, attempting to entertain while educating their audiences so they can expand their understanding of theater and the literature that can be told through theater. This particular peice deals ith the sacrifice that people might make for the love of another as we see through Jo and Charlie’s characters.

“Dirty Blonde”  will continue at Theater Wit, located at 1229 West Belmont Avenue through May 1st with performances on Thursday,Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 773-975-8150 or online at

Parking can be a bit of a problem as part of the area is zoned, part is metered, but they do have valet parking and there is some parking at Cooper’s Restaurant directly across the street, casual food, great drinks and parking.  

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