Performing Arts: Theater
March 15, 2015
Nostalgia resonates at Theater Row in Keen Company’s production of “John and Jen,” a moving two act, two-character play that makes its 20th anniversary run. The ideas, music, and at times- emotional punching lyrics stand an interesting test of time. Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald’s musical has stayed resolute throughout the years and is freshened by seasoned and new talents- most notably of course Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in the title roles.

“John and Jen” takes us on a journey through time beginning with a brother/sister pairing that grows up with familiar family woes- from the discovery of Santa Claus, to a brutal father figure with self discovery and finding independence wedged in-between.

After a death and the turn of the 60’s, act two delves into similar concepts with a different set up. This time the pairing is mother/son, with Baldwin carrying her character from act 1 into the second half. The book is at times over gooey and indulgent, and emotional moments are impactful, but the performers help carry them through without resting too long in a song or scene.

Baldwin (Finnean’s Rainbow, Big Fish), is stellar as Jen. She owns every note and especially shines in act 2 with a maternal instinct that can’t be learned. Conor Ryan (Fortress of Solitude, Cinderella) as John plays off her well. He is cunning and his choices smart. Their voices blend in a lovely harmony that makes them a natural As Baldwin carries on her star, Ryan’s begins to burn brightly.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

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