Professionally Speaking Revue with music and lyrics by Peter Winkler, Ernst Muller, Frederic Block. Directed by Tony Tanner. The cast is personable and talented. The presentation pleases. The songs and sketches pass muster for humor and relevance.
Such are the attractions of ``Professionally Speaking,'' the moderately diverting new topical revue at the Theatre at St. Peter's Church.
Collaborators Peter Winkler, Ernst Muller, and Frederic Block pick doctors, lawyers, and teachers as the particular targets of their lampoonery.
Beginning with ``The Doctor's Out Today,'' the entertainment works its flippant way through the natural habitats of its chosen professions.
The broadly comic commentary spoofs the practices (and malpractices) encountered by a longsuffering public amid the mysteries of medicine, the law, and education. In ``Three Doctors' Wives,'' Kathy Morath, Meg Bussert, and Marilyn Pasekoff compare distaff notes. ``Sibling Rivalry'' involves Miss Morath (a patient) and David Ardao (a psychiatrist) in a mock-Freudian role switch.
In one of the more sentimental numbers of a generally jaunty score, Miss Pasekoff muses on the bittersweet rewards of ``Portia's Life.''
``Professionally Speaking'' devotes its second act to education -- from secondary to primary to primitive, from a faculty strike and a tot's (Miss Pasekoff) view of ``Sesame Street'' to a demure grade-school teacher's (Miss Morath) confession of her double life.
Under Tony Tanner's direction, a company that includes Dennis Bailey and Hal Davis cavorts enthusiastically through the songs, sketches, and occasional mini-dances of ``Professionally Yours.''
The performers receive firm support from the piano duo of musical director Bruce W. Coyle and Robert Hirschorn and percussionist Don Yallech. The neat settings were designed by Robert Alan Harper, with lighting by Barry Arnold and attractive costumes by P. Chelsea Harriman.
According to a program note, collaborator and coproducer Block ``is a practicing lawyer and vice-president of the New York State Bar Association. This production marks his first Off Broadway musical, joining both his legal and musical worlds, with inspiration from his teacher, wife Estelle.'' Women of Manhattan Comedy by John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Ron Lagomarsino.
John Patrick Shanley, whose previous plays include the touching ``Danny and the Deep Blue Sea'' and the raw ``Savage in Limbo,'' has turned to the affluent milieu of New York's Upper West Side for ``Women of Manhattan.'' The aim is to create a sophisticated comedy of manners, romance, and sexual mores. Unfortunately, Mr. Shanley has trivialized the subject. Ninety uninterrupted minutes spent with his trio of self-absorbed heroines proves more tedious than enlightening or entertaining. (Some of the dialogue matches the level of a TV talk-show conversation between Joan Rivers and Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown.) Director Ron Lagomarsino has attempted to invest the performance with an urbane style, but Shanley has provided too little to be stylish about. Nancy Mette, Jayne Haynes, and J. Smith-Cameron give nicely differentiated characterizations of the trendily dressed (by Ann Emonts) women in the case. Keith Szarabajka as an insecure yuppie husband and Tom Wright as a suave black philanderer complete the cast of the Manhattan Theatre Club's final main-stage offering of the season. The production's most striking feature is Adrianne Lobel's mobile, two-level setting nestled among the towering facades of the Manhattan skyline.