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Paulanne Simmons

Take a Peek at the Past with Miss Abigail

Eve Plumb as Miss Abigail. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

"Miss Abigail's guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage!"
Directed by Ken Davenport
Downstairs Cabaret Theater at Sofia's
221 West 46th Street
Opened Oct. 24, 2010
Wed. at 2pm. Thu. And Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, Sun. at 3pm, 7:30pm
Tickets: $75-$125 (877) 964-7722
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Dec. 22, 2010

Emily Post, Dr. Ruth move over. Miss Abigail is here, and although her advice may be a little dated, no young lady (or young man) should fish for a mate on dangerous waters without consulting her.

"Miss Abigail's guide to Dating, Mating & Marriage!" is based on Abigail Grotke's eponymous book , which promises "classic advice for contemporary dilemmas." It features the hilarious Eve Plumb as the wise woman and the wonderfully deadpan Manuel Herrera as Paco, her assistant.

The show is written by Ken Davenport, ("Altar Boyz," "My First Time"), who also directs, and Sarah Saltzberg ("The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"). All they ask is that the audience give up intellectual pretentions and succumb to their seductive silliness.

Miss Abigail, having learned much from a long-lasting marriage that ended with the death of her husband, freely dispenses all the knowledge vital to people growing up in the first half of the 20th century: the fine arts of flirting, kissing, and letting a man think he's in charge when, of course, he isn't, for example.

Along with the advice, come charts, videos, demonstrations and handouts that can be tucked into a purse for emergency use. There's even audience participation: a lucky few get to follow Miss Abigail's instructions on the proper way to move when on the make. Best of all, the audience gets to watch a halting romance develop between the passionate Paco and the clueless Miss Abigail.

Paco keeps hinting at his devotion, as he schleps out charts and works the audience for his lady. And he is extremely curious about Miss Abigail's feelings toward Mexican immigrants. At one point Paco disappears and Miss Abigail gets an assistant from the audience. For the rest of the evening, after Paco returns, he shoots evil looks at the innocent helper.
Paco lets Miss Abigail know he thinks a relationship with an older woman will be just fine. But she appears far too proper to countenance such an outlandish idea.

"Miss Abigail's guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage!" has the kind of informal atmosphere (this is more cabaret than traditional theater) that makes it a perfect show for a bunch of girls to see while the guys go bowling or watch football on T.V. But it's also a great show to see with a date or mate. That way you can feel superior to all those poor slobs still on the prowl while you laugh yourself silly.

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