More Than Skin Deep at NTAC

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Max (Brian Page), Nina (Carrie Theodossin) and Nancy (Harriet Whitmyer) have an animated discussion in “Sitting Pretty.” Photo by Ron Yee

Looking for a little ent ertainment during the mid-holiday season downtime?  Head over to the Newport Theatre Arts Center, where this Thursday marked the opening of a new play, “Sitting Pretty“ by Amy Rosenthal.

This contemporary play revolves around two sisters, Nancy and Nina.  Nina is brisk and dynamic, while Nancy is plump and self-conscious.  Urged to find a hobby, Nancy stumbles into a job as a life model for drawing students.

While initially horrified to find that such models pose in the nude, Nancy ultimately finds the experience to be unexpectedly liberating.  Although she keeps her new activity a secret, her sister can’t help but notice Nancy’s newfound confidence – something Nina finds to be unsettling.  We follow the sisters through a series of humorous twists and turns as they move toward an inevitable confrontation.

This slice of life depicts family relations, and examines society’s views on body image in a not-to-serious way that is at once bittersweet and humorous.

Produced by Rae Cohen and directed by Phyllis Gitlin, both seasoned veterans at NTAC, this production promises not to disappoint.

I recently asked Gitlin why she chose to bring this play to Newport, and this was her reply:

“‘Sitting Pretty’ is a bittersweet story of self image. The story centers around Nancy, an out of work, 55-year-old, zoftig woman who is trying to find her place in life. Her self-image, both physical and psychological, has taken a beating over the years. The old adage ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ could apply to the play. Nancy blossoms like the sunflowers in her garden as she explores the world around her.

“It is a story about women’s physical self-image and what the media and crass words can do to it. I feel that it is a wonderful story to tell, especially with the current issues of bullying and negative body images bombarding women. I submitted this play, because it is fresh and new to American audiences. I am honored that Rae Cohen chose it for her 2011 season.”

She feels that the audience will be able to relate to Nancy’s struggles, and says that “Sitting Pretty” carries a message that words can hurt, and that beauty is found in all shapes and sizes.

With all the issues floating around today involving cyber-bullying, and negative reinforcement to young girls regarding their body image, I say bravo to both Phyliis and Rae for bringing this message to the stage.  As a somewhat “zoftig” woman myself, I can definitely appreciate the notion that there is beauty to be found in everyone, regardless of shape or size.

Never fear gentlemen, this is not just an estrogen-fest.  The humor in the play, including the philandering art teacher, will ensure that you will enjoy this on date night just as much as the girls will.

“Sitting Pretty” runs through Dec. 11; tickets are $16 to $21. For details or tickets, visit or call (949) 631-0288.


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