Reviews

Winesday, The Wine Tasting Musical ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 23, 2024: When the house opens at The Jerry Orbach Theater these days something unusual happens. Members of the audience are not given a program. They receive a shot of wine and a wine scorecard. In fact throughout the show, the audience enjoys a variety of wines while the actors (we are led to believe) are doing the same onstage.

Amanda Lea LaVergne, Debra Thais Evans, Jennifer Diamond, Shannen Hofheimer, and Dawn Cantwell.

By: Paulanne Simmons

May 23, 2024: When the house opens at The Jerry Orbach Theater these days something unusual happens. Members of the audience are not given a program. They receive a shot of wine and a wine scorecard. In fact throughout the show, the audience enjoys a variety of wines while the actors (we are led to believe) are doing the same onstage.

The show, with book and lyrics by Jenne Wason and music by Joseph Benoit, is called Winesday, the wine tasting musical. And thanks to Jamibeth Margolis’s smooth direction, it’s funny and upbeat enough that we may not notice it was probably produced on a shoestring.

The musical is about a group of women friends: Vanessa (Shannen Hofheimer), who has a wife, Chiara, but prefers to hang out with her dog; Winter (Debra Thais Evans), a writer in the thralls of an unscrupulous guru; Jess (Dawn Cantwell), who never saw a protest she wouldn’t join; the desperately single Molly (Amanda Lea LaVergne), whose relationship with her first cousin causes her friends to quip “23andme is not a dating app”;  and the hyper-organized Sammie (Jennifer Diamond). 

Amanda Lea LaVergne, Jennifer Diamond, Debra Thais Evans, Dawn Cantwell, and Shannen Hofheimer.

The women are in their thirties and forties. They meet regularly to share their lives and support each other as they discuss their partners, their travels, their careers and their obsessions.

With the help of the Wine Steward (Michale Valvo), these meetings are lubricated by a good deal of imbibing. Even when Winter discovers someone (most probably her guru) has stolen her considerable supply of wine, her friends step up to the plate with their own contributions.

Amanda Lea LaVergne, Jennifer Diamond, Shannen Hofheimer, Debra Thais Evans, and Dawn Cantwell.

Each of the characters has a chance to sing about her woes. The ladies sing about the not quite wonderful men in their lives (various versions of “Perfect” and “Drinking about You”). And of course, they sing an awful lot about wine.

Sometimes the songs are accompanied by interesting, if not very elaborate, choreography. Thus we see a tap dance to “A Blissful Freaking Nap,” a yoga workout accompanying “Lush-a-noia” and rehearsal for a Christmas pageant for “Fifth Shepherd from the Right.”

There’s not much of a plot to Winesday, but the catchy and funny songs, and the enthusiasm of the cast, to say nothing of four glasses of wine, might help you forget that detail.

Jennifer Diamond and Debra Thais Evans.

Winesday, the wine tasting musical ***1/2
The Jerry Orbach Theater
The Theater Center @ Broadway
210 West 50 Street, New York, NY 10019
212 921-7862
Now playing Wednesdays at 7:30PM, Thursdays at 5PM and Sundays at 1PM!, Runs through July 2024
Photography: Russ Rowland