Review: “Rich Girl” at Lyric Stage Company of Boston

A scene from "Rich Girl" at Lyric Stage Company of Boston

A scene from “Rich Girl” at Lyric Stage Company of Boston

By Robert Israel

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” author F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. “They are different from you and me.”

In Victoria Stewart’s play “Rich Girl,” now at Lyric Stage Company of Boston through April 26, we meet Eve (Amelia Broome), a celebrity financial guru (think: Suze Orman), who at first blush seems to defy Fitzgerald’s description. She’s likeable, magnetic, and charming. She’s come to her wealth the hard way. She’s raised her daughter Claudine (Sasha Castroverde) as a single mom. She’s built an empire by using cunning wits and tenacity. She’s established a foundation to help those in need. What’s not to like?

But once we get to know her, she is different after all. She uses her wealth to command special treatment. Her stalwart assistant Maggie (Celeste Oliva) jumps every time she barks, and sees to her media appearances and her personal needs as well. Eve also expects her daughter, a shy, church-mouse of a woman, to work at her foundation and to follow in her footsteps. She’s an Iron Maiden.

The source for the play is “Washington Square,” a work from the 1880s, made into a play “The Heiress” that appeared on Broadway in 1947. This new adaptation sets the story into the 21st century, while still remaining true to the spirit of the original pot boiler, namely wealth and its ensuing trappings.

There is a fourth character: Henry (Joe Short), a struggling actor, who calls upon Claudine essentially to hit her up for money, but he ends up falling for her. Or does he? Is it, as Cole Porter once mused, “the good turtle soup, or is it the mock? Is it at long last love?” We have to watch the play for clues to this eternal quest to find out about what Porter called this “funny thing called love.”

We know how Eve feels about Henry, even before she shares her prejudices with us. He doesn’t have a dime to his name, so, from her perspective, the romance is most assuredly doomed. Just to be sure it ends up on the rocks, she uses chicanery to sabotage it.

And so we have a play with a clichéd story known to us all: Rich girl meets poor handsome sod, contends with overbearing mother, who confides in the personal assistant, all while threatening to elope anyway. The pleasure is to watch this all unfold on stage with talented actors, who, for the most part, rise to the demands of the script.

As Eve, Amelia Broome displays the bravado of a woman on top of her game, not afraid to wield that power unflinchingly. She takes no prisoners, but she herself is imprisoned by cancer, and that disease will diminish her as the play progresses. As her daughter Claudine, Sasha Castroverde has numerous moments to shine, and she seems better suited for this role than she previously displayed in the Lyric’s “Water by the Spoonful.” Her transformation from milquetoast to hardnosed businesswoman is less convincing, however, and could use better coaching and blocking from director Courtney O’Connor. As Maggie, Eve’s personal assistant, the very capable Celeste Oliva performs with her trademark manic energy, and adds needed comic relief as a flibbertigibbet. And as Henry, Joe Short, so wonderful in Bridge Rep’s “The Lover,” again proves himself to be a charismatic and mesmerizing performer.

The scenic design by Brynna Bloomfield works wonderfully, as does the lighting by Chris Bocchiaoro. The play, while not offering us anything new to an old story, is none the less first-rate entertainment.

Robert Israel can be reached at This review first appeared in


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