“Never again will I lie down with a woman of the opposite sex without making a
total commitment,” swears middle-aged Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Lester
Oronofsky (Marq Del Monte) to his receptionist Myrna Jorgensen (Alycia Tracy).
Oronofsky has, by his own reckoning, slept with “two baker’s dozen” female patients.
(With a private consulting room overlooking Central Park, “how could I resist?”) 

This is the alternate universe in which Mark Troy’s outrageous and often hilarious
Paging Dr. Chutzpah takes place, a world in which the only worry a psychiatrist
having sex with 26 patients might have is health, not prison, related. Fortunately,
Miss Jorgensen informs the doctor, “your Chlamydia test came back negative.”

Dr. Oronofsky might consider behavior more befitting a mental health professional,
but with beautiful women like today’s first patient, stripper Kitty Gypsy (Heidi Fielek)
on his couch, how can a red-blooded heterosexual Jewish M.D. resist? (Miss Gypsy’s
given name, by the way, is Tiffany Rage, but she changed it so as not to disgrace her

Suddenly, an idea occurs to Dr. Oronofsky! He will be the first man to “take a girl off
the street and change her into a princess.”  (Clearly, this is a man who has never
seen My Fair Lady.)

Before he can do that, however, Dr. Oronofsky’s eager beaver nephew Herman
(Danny Lippin) arrives.  Herman, whose dream was to “grow up and be Uncle
Lester,” has just gotten his degree in psychiatry and is here to set up a joint practice
with said uncle. (This is news to Dr. Oronofsky, who hasn’t spent any quality time with
his nephew since Herman’s bris at 8-days-old.)

There is one hitch, however. Herman seems incapable of giving psychiatric advice to
a patient that doesn’t involve that patient’s killing someone, Godfather style.
Unfazed by that, Herman has arrived with a contract for his uncle to sign. (The
contract specifies a 50-50 split, though chutzpahful Herman is willing to go 75-25, but
no less than 25% for his uncle.)

Herman is engaged to a Miss Bonnie Bobonnie (Colette Freedman), a mousy librarian
who “deserves nothing but the bo-best.” (Dr. Oronofsky’s words, not mine.) Bonnie is
wont to pepper her speech with Latin expressions, e.g. exemplum, ad hoc, de facto,
ergo, etc. She is a librarian after all, and a “Virginia” too, “minus the ‘inya.’”)

Will Dr. Oronofsky be able to transform Kitty into a princess? Will Herman learn to
diagnose a patient without advising a hit job? Will Bonnie emerge from her librarian’s
shell? Will Miss Jorgensen consummate her unrequited love for Dr. Oronofsky?  These
are but a few of the questions answered in Paging Dr. Chutzpah.

Under the direction of Lynne Moses, the cast give performances that are
appropriately over-the-top.  It’s fun to watch Tracy’s Miss Jorgensen appear in a
series of guises and accents, including an all-business German, an Irish seductress,
and a Daisy Duke-like Southerner, all in a frustrated attempt to get the doctor to see
her as a woman.  Fielek is funny, sexy, and smart as Kitty Gypsy.  Del Monte gets
laughs as the horny doctor.  Freedman, abandoning all self-consciousness in her
surprise Act 2 regalia, is the most outrageous of the bunch. She has a When Harry
Met Sally-style onstage orgasm that is a tour de force moment for her. Best of them
all is Lippin, ironically because his performance ends up the most natural and least
forced.  He’s got a Michael J. Fox/Matthew Broderick energy and enthusiasm about
him, and is very funny to watch as he eagerly takes “to-do” notes on a small pad—
get a herringbone jacket like Uncle Lester’s, drink straight Bourbon like Uncle Lester,
grow 3½ inches taller like Uncle Lester, etc.  

The design team has done excellent work, most notably Mark Haupert for his finely
detailed Manhattan psychiatrist’s office.  Costumes are uncredited, but include
gems such as Kitty Gypsy’s pink and black stripper garb, Miss Jorgensen’s multiethnic
getups, and Bonnie’s uptight librarian’s suit and her Act 2 transformation.

Like playwright Troy’s Tsuris (which entertained audiences at the same venue in
2006), Paging Dr. Chutzpah is two acts of over-the-top fun.  Just don’t expect any
resemblance between these characters and real life.  That would be purely

Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank.

–Steven Stanley
December 31, 2007

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