SHE SAID: THE LIFE… The Hooker’s World at WDL

by Jessica Graae

Patrick Sutton and Kellianne Quirk in THE LIFE at Wilmington Drama League through October 1.

The Wilmington Drama League provides a bird’s-eye view into the dark world of prostitution in its strong production of Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman’s The LIFE, cleverly directed by Tina Sheing. Set in New York City’s crime-ridden 1980’s, the musical revolves around the lives of Queen (Sharon Brown Ruegsegger) and Fleetwood (Timothy Lamont Cannon), a young couple from Savannah, Georgia. Fleetwood’s addictions drive him to pimping Queen and spending all her earnings on drugs. We learn quickly there is no way out for them; there is always another pimp around the corner or another drug dealer waiting to suck you dry.

Sharon Brown Ruegsegger is both an excellent singer and actor in this demanding role. Her sweet soprano is well suited for the jazzy/bluesy score. She has just the right combination of heartbreak and hope in her performance. We hope she’ll escape the devastating violence of the streets. Fleetwood is the kind of low-life who brings everyone around him down. Cannon is a fine singer and fleshes out this slimy character.

Musical Director Matt Casarino’s band is sassy and hip, supporting the actors and bringing the score to life. Despite the gloomy subject matter, the musical has some biting humor. Rebecca Gallatin plays Sonja, a washed-up prostitute who whips out a calculator to figure out how many Johns she’s had. “15,000 men” she concludes, making sure she doesn’t count the days when she’d visited her mother for Christmas.

Sharon Brown Ruegsegger and Nick D’Argenio in THE LIFE at Wilmington Drama League.

The chorus of hookers and pimps adds color and vitality to the show. Jody Anderson’s choreography is crisp and sexy. Lou (Pat Sutton) and Mary (Kellianne Quirk) let their imaginations get away with them during the number “People Magazine”. Sutton is wonderful as a talent scout, trying to convince Mary she’ll be such a famous porn star she’ll become a legitimate actress, finding herself on the cover of People Magazine. Quirk plays the consummate “dumb blonde” who, in reality, beats all the men at their own game. As Memphis, Nick D’Argenio is menacing and in his song “My Way or the Highway” he makes it clear how powerful and controlling he is. Mike Renn gives an excellent performance as he embodies greed and debauchery.

Book by David Newman, Ira Gasman and Cy Coleman
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by Ira Gasman
Directed by Tina M. Sheing
Music Direction by Matt Casarino
Choreography by Jody Anderson
September 16-October 1, 2011
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Boulevard
Wilmington, DE 19802
302 764-1172

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