Capital Fringe Review: ‘How to Have It All: The Musical’ by Terry Byrne

Three good reasons to see How to Have It All: The Musical.
1. Freshly baked cookies. A nurturing, maternal figure will even warn you away from the chocolate chip if you have a peanut allergy, offering instead the classic, healthful Quaker Oats recipe. Take that, Hillary! 
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2. Cardboard, smiley, church-style fans printed with feminism passages. A sample by Gloria Steinem: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons … but few have the courage to raise our sons more like daughters.” Another from Mae West: “I’d rather be looked over than overlooked.” The hot bodies stuffed into The (sweat) Shop @ Fort Fringe became instant fans with this gesture alone – especially those also enduring hot flashes.

3. If you find yourself apologizing constantly for falling short of the modern woman’s four-pronged formula for happiness – be an awesome mother, have a successful career, bask in a wonderful and equitable marriage and indulge in plenty of “me” time – then you owe it to yourself to commune with your sistahs (and brothers who are in touch with their feminine sides) … can I get an Amen?!

Inspired by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s splash in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Fully Charged Productions nurses today’s feminist rage from the page to the stage, managing somehow to keep things lighthearted. It took seven co-writers, four co-composers, Director Ricardo Frederick Evans’ deft touch, Co-Director William Diggle’s organic staging and six stunningly gifted actors – most alums of the National Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts — to midwife what is sure to be a Fringe favorite.

While not a panacea for every warrior woman’s woes, this comedy explores the guilt, ambition and boot-camp makeover pressure of a D.C.-area single working mom in pursuit of “It All.” A painted backdrop of the curvy Jefferson Memorial dome and the phallic Washington Monument with the Potomac winding through depicts the fluidity with which we can and should define our gender roles.

Amid her typical tumult, though, principal Ann (aka Client No.08975) turns to a corporate, cookie-cutter solution before discovering the secret to identity is to break the mold and give herself a break.

Music stylings range from crisp show tune to stilted rap to jazzy torch song. Standout performers: Aniko Olah wows as Sarge and little boy Will, exhibiting a full spectrum of gender confidence and character homing instincts; Dane C. Petersen glides with ease from estranged husband/dad to homophobic grandma to Princess Barbie to “Grey Poupon” prick; and Jose Pineda as a closeted gay man, Manny, somehow bridges the language of all personhood’s struggles.

Accessories not included, but an awesome array of shoes (props to costumes/props mistress/co-writer/co-composer Lynn Ritland) is worth the price of admission.

And the cookies — did we mention the cookies?

Running time: 60 minutes.

How to Have It All: The Musical plays through July 25, 2013 at Fort Fringe – The Shop – 607 New York Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. For performances information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.


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