Alice Ripley: Ripley Prescription

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Alice Ripley

Ripley Prescription

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, May 9, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

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By the end of the night, Alice Ripley could be described as anything but timid, but that’s how her show started off. With a voice fit for Broadway, and a leather jacket that evoked the spirit of an ‘80s greaser with a dash of color, Ripley worked her way methodically through her “heartbreak suite.

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” A strong start with Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” became a soft and slow jam session as she tapped the drums along to a selection of love songs including “Seven Year Ache” (Roseanne Cash), “Tell It Like it Is” (George Davis/Lee Diamond), and “Everytime You Go Away” (Daryl Hall). Methodical execution characterized this performer’s breezy story about an Ohio farm girl looking for a place to belong, though she barely took a second between songs to pause.

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Playing the roles of both George and Martha from the opening of the scene of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, she created unique voices for each. Rarely hinting at any similarity between the two, the startling choice of the Edward Albee classic dawned quickly as Ripley argued between two fictional versions of herself over drinks. George to Martha, back to George. Ripley brought the nuances of the play in the form of the simmering tension of the languishing marriage of the older couple. She made acting both parts look easy, so when Ripley finished the dialogue at the point when George goes to answer the door for the younger couple in the play, I believed she indeed had found an honored place in the theater world. 

Her best songs came from the Broadway hits that followed the dialogue. First, her original duet as Betty Schaefer of “Too Much in Love to Care” from Sunset Boulevard with her fun pianist/music director Bradley Simmons, impressed. But, it was the Norma Desmond song, “As If We Never Said Goodbye” where Ripley took her voice and her audience to enthusiastic heights. Many in the crowd even answered her first lines with, “I am big; it’s the pictures that got small.” When she followed that stellar choice with “I Miss the Mountains” (Brian Yorkey/Tom Kitt) from her Tony-winning performance in Next to Normal, no one could be surprised that she has what it takes to capture the imagination. “There was a time when I flew higher…when the wild girl running free would be me,” and Alice Ripley took her bows and exited to a standing ovation.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see