Jenny's House of Joy entertains right to the end

News Jul 13, 2011 Scarborough Mirror

There is nothing more refreshing than people knowing exactly who they are and who they're not.

This way, lines are clearly drawn and expectations and disappointments are kept to a minimum.

In Scarborough Players final show of the season, 'Jenny's House of Joy,' by Norm Foster, four women who work as whores in an 1870s brothel in a small cowboy town in Kansas, know exactly what to expect considering they make a living servicing men for money.

But don't let the setting fool you. This story is really about the women in this show (there are no men), how they got to be there, their inner workings and outer angsts. It's a compelling tale that is funny, and less about their actual job than it is about them as human beings.

These women are made of equal parts heart and steel. There's Jenny (Alyssa Quart), the madam, who works alongside her girls while keeping the books and the rules intact, and Frances (Shelly Mitchell), the oldest and sassiest, who has a sarcastic answer for everything.

Anita (Anna Maria Lo Bianco) is sweet and always looks for the best in people, and newcomer Natalie (Jessica Grosdanof) starts off meek but ends up finding her strength and identity quickly.

It's in the parlour room in the morning, evening and in between "appointments" where we really get to know these girls. Anita longs for a life where she hobnobs with the upper class and is accepted as one of them, and Natalie, who just arrived from that life, was beaten by her husband and has come to Jenny's for empowerment and independence.

Frances and Jenny make no apologies for their lot in life and don't care what anyone thinks of them. Since both of their pasts have led them to separate their emotions from intimacy, this profession is ideal for them.

For those who have seen a Foster play and think this is far different than his usual comedies, this is one of his better ones. He really taps into raw human emotion and writes a story about friendship, loyalty, strength and resilience.

Rest assured, besides some adult (but incredibly smart) dialogue, there is nothing offensive or lewd about this show. It's a moving portrait of four women's lives and how they support each other in a time when women didn't have a lot of choices.

The characters in this show are both likeable and relatable, played remarkably by a great ensemble cast. Mitchell will have you laughing out loud at her thoughts and observations of the world as the tough-talking Frances. Quart is amazing as the no-nonsense Jenny who commands your attention and respect, and Lo Bianco garners your sympathy as the sweet and hopeful Anita.

Grosdanof's character has the biggest journey in this story, and it's amazing to watch her transform from the sweet and needy Natalie to the cunning and empty person she becomes.

Scarborough Players always chooses plays that are maybe not the most known or seemingly risqué, but once again their choice pays off. Jenny's House of Joy will make you laugh, possible cry, but more than anything entertain you until the very end.

Jenny's House of Joy runs July 14 to 16, 21 to 22, 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on July 17 and 23, Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd. Tickets are $17 and $14 for students and seniors. For tickets please call 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com

Jenny's House of Joy entertains right to the end

News Jul 13, 2011 Scarborough Mirror

There is nothing more refreshing than people knowing exactly who they are and who they're not.

This way, lines are clearly drawn and expectations and disappointments are kept to a minimum.

In Scarborough Players final show of the season, 'Jenny's House of Joy,' by Norm Foster, four women who work as whores in an 1870s brothel in a small cowboy town in Kansas, know exactly what to expect considering they make a living servicing men for money.

But don't let the setting fool you. This story is really about the women in this show (there are no men), how they got to be there, their inner workings and outer angsts. It's a compelling tale that is funny, and less about their actual job than it is about them as human beings.

These women are made of equal parts heart and steel. There's Jenny (Alyssa Quart), the madam, who works alongside her girls while keeping the books and the rules intact, and Frances (Shelly Mitchell), the oldest and sassiest, who has a sarcastic answer for everything.

Anita (Anna Maria Lo Bianco) is sweet and always looks for the best in people, and newcomer Natalie (Jessica Grosdanof) starts off meek but ends up finding her strength and identity quickly.

It's in the parlour room in the morning, evening and in between "appointments" where we really get to know these girls. Anita longs for a life where she hobnobs with the upper class and is accepted as one of them, and Natalie, who just arrived from that life, was beaten by her husband and has come to Jenny's for empowerment and independence.

Frances and Jenny make no apologies for their lot in life and don't care what anyone thinks of them. Since both of their pasts have led them to separate their emotions from intimacy, this profession is ideal for them.

For those who have seen a Foster play and think this is far different than his usual comedies, this is one of his better ones. He really taps into raw human emotion and writes a story about friendship, loyalty, strength and resilience.

Rest assured, besides some adult (but incredibly smart) dialogue, there is nothing offensive or lewd about this show. It's a moving portrait of four women's lives and how they support each other in a time when women didn't have a lot of choices.

The characters in this show are both likeable and relatable, played remarkably by a great ensemble cast. Mitchell will have you laughing out loud at her thoughts and observations of the world as the tough-talking Frances. Quart is amazing as the no-nonsense Jenny who commands your attention and respect, and Lo Bianco garners your sympathy as the sweet and hopeful Anita.

Grosdanof's character has the biggest journey in this story, and it's amazing to watch her transform from the sweet and needy Natalie to the cunning and empty person she becomes.

Scarborough Players always chooses plays that are maybe not the most known or seemingly risqué, but once again their choice pays off. Jenny's House of Joy will make you laugh, possible cry, but more than anything entertain you until the very end.

Jenny's House of Joy runs July 14 to 16, 21 to 22, 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on July 17 and 23, Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd. Tickets are $17 and $14 for students and seniors. For tickets please call 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com

Jenny's House of Joy entertains right to the end

News Jul 13, 2011 Scarborough Mirror

There is nothing more refreshing than people knowing exactly who they are and who they're not.

This way, lines are clearly drawn and expectations and disappointments are kept to a minimum.

In Scarborough Players final show of the season, 'Jenny's House of Joy,' by Norm Foster, four women who work as whores in an 1870s brothel in a small cowboy town in Kansas, know exactly what to expect considering they make a living servicing men for money.

But don't let the setting fool you. This story is really about the women in this show (there are no men), how they got to be there, their inner workings and outer angsts. It's a compelling tale that is funny, and less about their actual job than it is about them as human beings.

These women are made of equal parts heart and steel. There's Jenny (Alyssa Quart), the madam, who works alongside her girls while keeping the books and the rules intact, and Frances (Shelly Mitchell), the oldest and sassiest, who has a sarcastic answer for everything.

Anita (Anna Maria Lo Bianco) is sweet and always looks for the best in people, and newcomer Natalie (Jessica Grosdanof) starts off meek but ends up finding her strength and identity quickly.

It's in the parlour room in the morning, evening and in between "appointments" where we really get to know these girls. Anita longs for a life where she hobnobs with the upper class and is accepted as one of them, and Natalie, who just arrived from that life, was beaten by her husband and has come to Jenny's for empowerment and independence.

Frances and Jenny make no apologies for their lot in life and don't care what anyone thinks of them. Since both of their pasts have led them to separate their emotions from intimacy, this profession is ideal for them.

For those who have seen a Foster play and think this is far different than his usual comedies, this is one of his better ones. He really taps into raw human emotion and writes a story about friendship, loyalty, strength and resilience.

Rest assured, besides some adult (but incredibly smart) dialogue, there is nothing offensive or lewd about this show. It's a moving portrait of four women's lives and how they support each other in a time when women didn't have a lot of choices.

The characters in this show are both likeable and relatable, played remarkably by a great ensemble cast. Mitchell will have you laughing out loud at her thoughts and observations of the world as the tough-talking Frances. Quart is amazing as the no-nonsense Jenny who commands your attention and respect, and Lo Bianco garners your sympathy as the sweet and hopeful Anita.

Grosdanof's character has the biggest journey in this story, and it's amazing to watch her transform from the sweet and needy Natalie to the cunning and empty person she becomes.

Scarborough Players always chooses plays that are maybe not the most known or seemingly risqué, but once again their choice pays off. Jenny's House of Joy will make you laugh, possible cry, but more than anything entertain you until the very end.

Jenny's House of Joy runs July 14 to 16, 21 to 22, 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on July 17 and 23, Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd. Tickets are $17 and $14 for students and seniors. For tickets please call 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com