Hurry to see 'I am my own wife' at Booth Playhouse in Charlotte

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2008

By Sarah Hall
Salisbury Post
Time is running out to see “I Am My Own Wife” now playing at Charlotte’s Booth Playhouse through May 18.
And time is also running out for you to take a last look at the Booth in its current form. At the end of May, it will close for renovations. It is scheduled to reopen in October.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte is currently presenting Doug Wright’s Pulitzer prize-winning one-man play, directed by Dennis Delamar and starring Scott Ripley. The talented Mr. Ripley portrays 35 characters during at least 90 minutes of unceasing speaking, not only in English, but also German, taking on various dialects and accents. He glided so seamlessly in and out of characters I felt was hearing dialogue rather than monologue.
The play’s central character is Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (or Luther Berfeld) a real person, a Berlin cult figure who died in 2002. She was a transvestite who managed to survive a cruel father, Nazi Germany, Russian-controlled East Germany and post-unification skinheads. Founder and curator of a house museum of everyday objects, she was as fascinating a relic as the items she treasured and guarded.
Throughout the play, Ripley is dressed modestly as Charlotte, in a woman’s black dress, headscarf and comfortable shoes. But the body language in his portrayals of the many male characters is so convincing that he is not hampered by the dress.
In spite of the play’s serious subjects, there are humorous moments. The play paints a compassionate human portrait of Charlotte.
Ripley has few props and there is minimal set to help him achieve his convincing portrayal. Music and sound effects were used at times to enhance the production, but they were unnecessary. So convincing was Ripley’s performance that he could keep the audience riveted on a bare stage with no soundtrack.
The play is receiving enthusiastic reviews, sending the old Booth Playhouse into history on a triumphant note as they strike not just the set, but the lobby also.
Bank of America is making changes to Founders Hall that affect both Booth Playhouse and Belk Theater. The construction and renovation involve plans to link the bank’s headquarters building with the nearby $700 million development that includes an office tower and Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
This plan provides $2 million in bank-funded improvements to the N.C. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center which is giving the bank use of the Booth Playhouse’s lobby for a skywalk. The bank is paying for lobby renovation, expanded restrooms and a new stairway.
The Blumenthal’s main ticket center will be moving to the lobby of the Belk Theatre on North Tryon Street. The plan also provides Blumenthal’s administrative staff with 1,500 square feet of office space in the new office tower.
Remaining performances for “I Am My Own Wife” are 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
For tickets, call 704-372-1000 or visit www.blumenthalcenter.org.
Contact Sarah Hall at shall@salisburypost.com or 704-797-4271.

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