BEST PRODUCTION OF A COMEDY (1999)

Before last November's opening of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the Hidden Theatre ensemble admitted to some nerves about their first foray into straight comedy. They needn't have worried. The company that gave us Ibsen's hyper-Nordic, funereal Hedda Gabler in the summertime also delivered Steve Martin's comic ode to genius, art, and anxiety as a giddy joy ride. The play was at once a door-slamming farce and a nostalgic elegy to a century's lost potential. The always redoubtable Annelise Christ played a tough-talking waitress with a heart of gold, and David Shulner pranced and snorted in the role of a very randy Picasso. Director Brian Baumgartner, meanwhile, managed a somewhat gimmicky script, steering his fine cast toward a more refined, and funnier, end.

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