Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories
nytheatre.com review by Megin Jimenez
August 14, 2010
Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories is a light, sweet confection, a blend of storytelling and song. The set is minimal, a bare stage with a piano. A platinum blonde dressed in black takes the microphone and unfolds the story of her life, centering on her childhood spent amid Texas ladies gettin' their hair done at her mother's little beauty salon.
Faye Lane has a cordial stage presence and a clear, high, and musical voice, which makes for a pleasant hour on the whole. She walks the line between well-rehearsed polish and folksy spontaneity, and the flashes of the latter are the most satisfying. Her portraits of the beauty shop ladies retain the most color and originality. I was wanting more of Lane's sharp observations of life in this particular corner of the South, its food and language, and especially details of these women chatting under the hair dryers, guns in their purses, telling tall tales of aliens eating their laundry off the clothesline. Insights into the childhood imagination are also a highlight, in particular a fantasy sequence where Jesus is her imaginary best friend, coming along for a bike ride and treats at the convenience store.
The coherence peters out as the show turns into a sketch of the rest of Lane's life, and although it does hold some remarkable elements, it is the much more familiar story of the once-bullied girl who gets out of town and does her own thing, using Mama's good advice and her inner resources.
The show features lively original music by Keith Thompson, Larry Rosen and Carol Hall (the songwriter for The Best Little Whorehouse and Texas), moving between country and cabaret, in a pure singing style that reminded me of Dolly Parton, particularly a comic tune detailing a truck driver's exciting life on the road. Music director Andrew Graham also accompanies energetically on the piano. The audience left in high spirits, with bouncy music still ringing out, the very definition of lighthearted—Lane's mission seemed accomplished.