AROUND THE WORLD
Classic, what does that bring to mind? Something that sustains itself over time, something that doesn’t feel dated and something that always resonates. “The Heidi Chronicles,” currently playing in a great revival at the Music Box Theater, has entered the pantheon of classics.
Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play was first seen on the stage in 1989. That adaptation introduced Joan Allen as the protagonist Heidi Holland and launched Ms. Allen’s long, illustrious career. A quarter of a century later, we are fortunate enough to have a gifted and luminous actress like Elisabeth Moss, who can run the gamut from sad to smart to funny, show that Heidi is no retro character. We have seen Ms. Moss develop the character Peggy Olsen brilliantly on the television show “Mad Men.” Here we get to see her play Heidi from an opinionated teenager in the 60s to an outspoken feminist in the 70s and ultimately a high-powered art historian in the 80s.
The story is one of life and how we respond to the changing times and people around us. There’s Heidi’s high school friend Susan, played with confident humor by Ali Ahn, who ends up a Hollywood power player. Scoop Rosenbaum, with whom Heidi has an on-and-off romantic relationship through the decades, is played with assured bravado by Jason Biggs. Finally there’s the handsome, debonair Peter Patrone, charmingly depicted by Bryce Pinkham, who proves that every girl needs a fabulous gay best friend. We get to see these three characters make life decisions that are sometimes difficult, often funny, and all too human.
The production is expertly directed by Pam MacKinnon, who is becoming a real master at making the classics, like “A Delicate Balance” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” feel relevant. The great sets by John Lee Beatty, screen projections by Peter Nigrini and a terrific soundtrack tell the tale of the changing times perfectly.
The cast is uniformly strong, but a special call-out must be made to Tracee Chimo, who plays a variety of characters, including Fran, a radical feminist who delivers zingers in the tradition of Elaine Stritch.
Whether you’re a teenager just starting out on the course of life or an adult figuring out the balance of work, romance and friendship, everyone can find something of themselves in Heidi. Ms. Wasserstein, who passed away in 2006 at the young age of 55, certainly understood that male or female, young or old, gay or straight, we’re all in this together.
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