BOTTOM LINE: Nurses in New England is a fun, irreverent and clever actress-driven Grey's Anatomy soap opera cabaret musical. If you like new music and medical drama, you should thoroughly enjoy Nurses in New England.
Nurses is set in New England where there are nurses aplenty but seemingly no doctors. Scratch that, they have, well, they have nurses - female nurses and one male orderly - running the show. They are remote, old school, and totally tough as nails. Especially Nurse Derek Shepherd. She's the one they call doctor - female doctor. She's the one who runs the joint. And since she's the one they consider "doctor," she's also the one that gets all the best lines - as we're informed in the first musical number of the piece: "the really good lines, oh, those are mine, oh yeah, those are mine."
The show is fun, sarcastic, clever, brilliant. It's completely worth your time to see.
The script is phenomenal, but what really made the piece for me was the entire casting throughout: Jess Barbagallo as Nurse Derek Shepherd is tough, no-nonsense, hard, and somewhat old and bedraggled. The cigarettes suit her most, I think. Erin Markey as EMT Abby Lockhart is as tomboyish and hot as hell. She has pipes for days and makes every gal swoon - even me just watching. Annie McNamara as Nurse Lois Lewis was straightforward, forthright and a melting school girl for EMT. Crisp clean acting work from her makes her a delight. Emily Davis as newbie Faye Greenwall is as green as they come and just as awkward and knowing as the smartest kid in the class who kept her nose in the books but never quite participated in the lab assignments. She, especially, endears the audience to coo at her foibles and then laugh out loud at her naivete. Eliza Bent, Lena Moy-Borgen, Julia Sirna-Frest and Greg Zuccolo are supporting players, but just as brilliant in every moment they are on stage: whether just ditzily painting her nails when she should be answering the phone (Bent), bringing in a new sea animal to the secret marine ward (Sirna-Frest), singing a mean backup and dancing the shoop-shoop (Moy-Borgen), or repeatedly kicking the ceiling with an extension past his nose/forehead for no better reason that a instrumental break (Zuccolo). Every single member of this cast makes this show. Period.
My only criticism of the piece is that the songs were written too low for the singers' vocal ranges - especially for a sound system that does not cater to the subtleties of voice over a band a few yards from the audience. Had the first number been raised a mere third, I think it would have been better for all involved, audience included. HOWEVER, the music is catchy, current and totally something I would listen to on my own time. In fact, if they end up with a cast album, I'd like to buy it. Hell, I'd like to sing some of the numbers myself.
So, yeah. Sadly, this show played a very short run and has now closed, but if you have the chance to see it in another production, I highly recommend it. It's great stuff.
(Nurses in New England played at The Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street between Spring and Broome, as part of the 17th Annual (and final) Ice Factory Festival. Tickets were $15 ($10 Students/Seniors). For more information go to sohothinktank.org.)