Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Emma Geer

An Independent Woman Before Her Time: Hindle Wakes*


*The title’s double entendre refers both to social awakening in the Lancashire town of Hindle and to “Wakes Week,” the seven to ten days when mills and factories would shut down for workers’ vacations.

It’s 1912. Mill worker Christopher Hawthorn (Ken Marks) and his wife (Sandra Shipley) lie in wait for their daughter, Fanny, (Rebecca Noelle Brinkley) to return from holiday in order to confront her. They’re fairly sure the seemingly “good girl” has spent her weekend with a man.

Jeremy Beck and Jonathan Hogan

Mrs. Hawthorn vibrates with fury. How dare her daughter ruin chances for a decent marriage, not to mention the family’s reputation! Actress Sandra Shipley emits the unusual syntax as if born to it. We’re immediately able to guage community values. Vehemence is palpable. Fanny’s father is – tempered. Though the strong-willed, unrepentant young woman at first denies it, truth is revealed through a bizarre coincidence.

The “cad” in question is Alan Jeffcote (Jeremy Beck), son of mill owner Nathanial Jeffcote (Jonathan Hogan) and his wife (Jill Tanner). Nat and Chris (as they refer to each other) rose together from poverty. Despite vast social and economic difference, they remain good friends. Still, status prevents a relationship between the young people. Further exacerbating circumstances, Alan is engaged to Beatrice Farrar (Emma Geer), a union that would further both families.

Jonathan Hogan and Brian Reddy

Chris is nagged up the hill by his wife to address what happened with the boy’s father and secure a promise of marriage. Appalled, Nat vows to “see that she’s (Fanny) treated right.” Plans for his own legacy and that of the business seem dashed by the unfortunate liaison. “Why hadn’t thou the sense to pay for your pleasures?!” he demands when the boy returns home. (You’ll get accustomed to the dialect.) Mrs. Jeffcote puts the blame on Fanny, whom she believes should be paid off. Upward mobility changes people.

Jeremy Beck is thoroughly credible as the egotistical, obtuse young scion. He protests, but doesn’t over dramatize and is perceptibly shocked when things don’t turn out as assumed. Rebecca Noelle Brinkley seems vague in Act I and then sullen, but comes into her own when Fanny finally speaks her mind.

Jeremy Beck and Emma Geer; Rebecca Noelle Brinkley, Jill Tanner, Jonathan Hogan

Jonathan Hogan’s Nathanial is one of the great pleasures of this production. Integrity is not unduly stiff. Nuanced expression and response (he listens) make him compelling. When Mrs. Jeffcote insists Alan didn’t get his proclivity from her side of the family, Nat wryly responds, in pitch perfect tone, “Adam. He got it from Adam.”

The Jeffcots inform Alan’s fiancé and her father, Sir Timothy (Brian Reddy who adds appealing emotional color), and then deal with the Hawthorns. Alan responds to threats. He and Beatrice have surprisingly opposite opinions about what must occur, as, it turns out to everyone’s shock, do Alan and Fanny.

Emma Geer, Brian Reddy, Jill Tanner, Jeremy Beck, Jonathan Hogan

Stanley Houghton’s 1912 play skewers its era’s social mores without proselytizing or cliché psychology. Characters are decidedly multidimensional. Humor and irony arrive impactful as well as entertaining. We utterly believe these people as written and played and are drawn in to what might be hackneyed, but turns out intriguing. A good looking, worthy production of work you’d otherwise never see.

Also featuring Jill Tanner’s realistic Mrs. Jeffcote, Emma Geer, in the role of insightful, if custom-bound Beatrice, Ken Marks’ understated, viscerally pained Christopher Hawthorn, and a self conscious Sara Carolynn Kennedy as Ada, the maid.

Rebecca Noelle Brinkley and Jeremy Beck

Director Gus Kaikkoen astutely defines his characters. There’s some splendid small stage business-like when Fanny wistfully, almost absently fingers the Jeffcote’s fancy tablecloth at a pivotal juncture. Where each person sits when trying to agree on action signals stature and attitude. A sudden, passionate clinch reads real rather than stagey. Detail includes a lovely whoosh when the gas chandelier goes on. Well crafted.

Dialects (Amy Stoller) are for the most part as crisp and natural as they are iconoclastic.

Charles Morgan’s Sets feature ornate, iron ceiling work and rooms framed in dark wood which keep visuals from being heavy while establishing solidity. Change from mill cottage to that of gentry is well executed. Costumes (Sam Fleming) are personal to character, displaying status and taste. Gerard Kelly’s Hair and Wigs credibly flatter. Lighting Design by Christian DeAngelis subtly makes the most of shadow.

Photos Courtesy of Mint Theatre
Opening: Sandra Shipley, Rebecca Noelle Brinkley, Ken Marks

Mint Theater Company presents
Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton
Directed by Gus Kaikkonen
Theatre Row, The Clurman Theatre 
410 West 42nd Street

Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? – A Nostalgic Journey with a Modern Wake-Up Call


Tommy Flowers (David Gow) sits in the first class cabin of a Miami-New York flight sipping Champagne and wooing the attendant (Noelle Franco) who pours it. “You’ve got great legs. Are they as nice all the way up?” he says, too loud and inappropriate for first class etiquette—the first giveaway that perhaps he hasn’t made it here via a regular path. Minutes later, Tommy reveals his game. “You know how to get yourself into the first class, right? You hang out near the gates where they keep the stack of first class boarding passes long enough to grab one.” 

This auspicious opening immediately pins Tommy Flowers onto a historical timeline, back in the pre-electronic era. It’s wonderfully nostalgic. Remember the days when the term “unplugging” referred to a hairdryer or a fridge—rather than to a human with a social media overload? Yes, Tommy is still in those blissfully old-fashioned days when passenger check-in wasn’t done via smartphones, but by an airline clerk, who manually filled out a piece of paper. Today, Tommy’s paper trick—as well as many of his other acts, conjured up and written by Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally—simply wouldn’t work. 

David Gow

But in old-time New York they do, at least for a while. And so the brave and defiant Miami native arrives in New York to conquer the big city—in his own way. 

Once the romance with the flight attendant withers, Tommy ends up on the street, not flustered in the least. He asks for money, fights with a destitute old actor, Ben Delight (Daniel O-Shea), for a lucrative panhandling corner, makes best friends with an oversized sheep dog, Arnold (Sam Garber), and generally has fun. He’s a floater who can be both mean and friendly, offensive and affectionate, annoying and funny. He’s a slacker who wants “to do everything” but does nothing—except rebel against the established societal rules. But despite the bravado, there are skeletons in Tommy’s closet—sickly parents, a married but lonely brother, a former girlfriend, being unhappily stuck in Florida’s boredom, and surviving a car crash that killed his friend.  Inside Tommy’s red bag that contains his life possessions, strange items are hidden: a bomb-making manual along with a clock, wires, and some spare parts. 

A series of skits and vignettes, under the guidance of director Laura Braza, and produced by Gow, take us through Tommy’s Big Apple roller coaster of highs and lows. In a moment of generosity, Tommy takes Ben to shop (or rather shoplift) at Bloomingdales.  There, in the fashionable store’s ladies room, he meets his next passion—Nedda Lemon (Emma Geer), a talented music student who has veered off the right path, and stashed a few camisoles into her violin case. Despite her initial anger directed at Tommy, she eventually gives into his charm, and the two realize they’re quite a pair.  After a freaked out customer (Emily Kitchens) calls security, Nedda helps Tommy escape the ladies room disguised as a nun. 

David Gow

The romance blossoms as the two lovebirds join forces against the world—shoplifting, beating checks and stealing ketchup bottles from restaurants. Tommy, Arnold, and Ben move into Nedda’s apartment. Here’s when nostalgia really hits. Oh, the blissful times when a struggling music student could afford a New York City apartment large enough to house an oversized sheep dog, plus a hallway with a couch for Ben to sleep on. Uber, security cameras, and delivery apps have since made it impossible to stiff a cheating cabbie or not pay for your dinner.

But the time is ticking for Tommy.  You can only get away with things for so long—plus mistakes can be costly. And as the clouds begin to thicken over his head, the bomb parts in his bag may become an appealing option. Will he ultimately follow the steps of the dangerous manual?  It is here when McNally’s decades old play suddenly leaps from the amusing past into an unsettling present. It’s not the first time a rebellious outcast would blow himself up to make his statement. It’s also not the last. So where has Tommy Flowers gone? Will he be part of the statistics that now rock the world with depressing regularity, or will he somehow manage to cheat his fate once again? 

Photos by Daniel Davila
Top photo:Emma Geer and David Gow

Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone?
By Terrence McNally
Directed by Laura Braza
The Workshop Theater
312 W 36th Street, Fourth Floor