JOHN AND JEN
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
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