A Catered Affair at Porchlight Music Theatre | Theater review
Rebecca Finnegan goes all out in Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino’s somber, small-scale musical.
When Tom and Aggie Hurley (Craig Spidle and Rebecca Finnegan) find out their daughter is getting married, the couple see a choice between ensuring their financial future and giving their daughter an unforgettable start to her marriage. Based on a 1955 teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky, adapted into a 1956 film starring Bette Davis, Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino’s somber musical beautifully explores the struggle to see dreams come to fruition in a time of economic turmoil.
Director Nick Bowling employs the polished yet unflashy aesthetic he’s honed at TimeLine Theatre, resulting in a sharp, clean production that captures the wedding’s high stakes. Brian Sidney Bembridge’s appropriately drab set accentuates the Hurleys’ modest living.
As “confirmed bachelor” Uncle Winston, Jerry O’Boyle highlights the tragic undercurrent of his character’s comic relief, seeking a domestic foothold as a homosexual in the ’50s. Finnegan gives a harrowing performance as Aggie, with forceful vocals that bring out the richness of Bucchino’s score. As strong as her singing is, Finnegan’s most resonant moments come in silence: staring into emptiness after returning home from her son’s military memorial; seeing her daughter in a wedding dress for the first time. Spidle’s growing desperation as the bill piles up is a stirring contrast to Finnegan’s optimism, while Kelly Davis Wilson and Jim DeSelm are charming as the couple who never wanted a lavish event.