Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage

By Pearl Chen

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and if you’re happily in a relationship, you might be thinking, “Great!” If you’re not, maybe it’s more like “Greeaaat.”  Leave it to Miss Abigail to build a little consensus on love. Her off-Broadway gem, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, shows that love may be elusive, confusing, and even unexpected – but it certainly never hurts to look at it with a sense of humor.

Inspired by the real life Abigail Grotke, the show stars Eve Plumb (Jan in The Brady Bunch) as relationship advisor extraordinaire. She wants to take us back to a time when “fidelity wasn’t just an insurance firm” and “intern was not English for ‘whore.’” And in this adorable, witty 90-minute play, she covers quite the gamut. Wondering how to flirt? Miss Abigail will show you how. Thinking about the perfect kiss? Just ask Miss Abigail for her magic word. Along the way, she’s assisted by Paco (Manuel Herrera), her much younger sidekick who has a goofy Mexican accent and no shortage of kooky visual aides.

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Eve Plumb and Manuel Herrera in Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage. (All photos by Carol Rosegg.)

One of the greatest strengths of the show is the audience interaction. (Its creators Ken Davenport and Sarah Saltzburg previously worked on highly interactive shows like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Awesome 80s Prom.) Volunteers get a chance to play the “Love, Lust or Stalking” game, or learn how to attract dates with Miss Abigail’s three-step technique (sit, lip lick, heinie). In our performance, one dude got so into it that I thought he was an actor planted into the audience (he wasn’t; he just had really agile eyebrows). Another laugh-out-loud segment is “what not to wear on dates.”

But the biggest surprise of the show is Paco. Herrera infuses this character with all the charisma and sex appeal of Enrique Iglesias but none of the sleaziness. In fact, it’s Paco who makes such insightful  observations like the fact that there’s “I age” in the word “marriage.” Next to Plumb, who turns in a likable, gracefully understated performance, Paco seems a little crazy. … And as we find out, it’s because he’s secretly crazy in love with Miss Abigail. I’m not usually a fan of cougar-type relationships, but Paco made me root for this one.

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Miss Abigail could’ve been stronger if her advice wasn’t so cliché or dated. (Women, let the man thinks he wears the pants. Men, always remember the anniversary.) It’s nothing you haven’t heard of before, and the raciest material comes in the form of a short, vintage-spoofing video. Still, the “tame” nature of the play takes nothing away from its genuine hilarity and charm – or its knack for making spot-on pop culture references. Yes, learning about love would’ve been nice, but laughing about it feels so much better.

*****

Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage has an open-ended run at at Sofia’s Downstairs Theater 221 W 46th St. (Between Broadway and 8th Avenues). Tickets: $69-125.

Last 5 posts by Pearl Chen

Posted on 02 Feb 2011 at 5:19pm
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