Mom Theatre Blogger: The Inn at Lake Devine: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

Photo credit: Maeghan Donohoe

Photo credit: Maeghan Donohue

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (Jake Lipman, producing artistic director) is presenting the world premiere adaptation of the popular novel, The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman.  And, if you’re a fan of the book, you will be heartened to know this production delivers.

The talented and versatile cast features Kurt Bardele, Michael Breese Barbour, Andrew Dawson, Jessica Giannone, Carson Lee, Jake Lipman, Maria Maloney, Norrice Raymaker, Amanda Rodhe, Andrew Spieker, Barbra Wengerd, Jennifer Dorr White, Jill Melanie Wirth, Melissa WolfKlain, and Tony Wolf.

The Inn at Lake Devine begins in 1964. When Natalie Marx’s mother inquires about a summer stay, she is told by the innkeeper: “The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.”  This infuriates a young Natalie who yearns to break the tradition of the inn.

The following summer, she stays at the inn as the guest of a close Gentile friend, Robin Fife, and her family.  Natalie is strong-willed and fiercely determined to enlighten the owners and prove that Jews should be welcome. Though she bonds with the male innkeeper over an interest in wild mushrooms, Natalie’s mission remains unsuccessful.  She returns home, and a decade passes. She grows into herself and her desire to pursue a career as a chef.  Only when she receives an invitation to Robin’s wedding to the eldest son of Ingrid Berry, Nathan, is Natalie reminded of the inn.

Upon her return to Vermont, Natalie finds herself in a quandary. She is attracted to the Berrys’ younger son, Kris, but is taken away by her parents who discourage the relationship, given his religion.

The richly-detailed novel, described as a romantic comedy, is well-executed in this stage adaptation by Jake Lipman.  Reflecting on such matters as Anti-Semitism and intermarriage, the play has humor and heart and several unexpected dramatic twists.  The large cast (15), some playing multiple roles, is convincing and appealing.  Lipman as Natalie is feisty and earnest in her portrayal. Brief musical numbers are charming, and the period costumes contribute.

The intimacy of the theatre bodes well for the vibe of the show.  Director Kimberly Faith Hickman, assisted by Molly Ballerstein, keeps things flowing, as the actors fluidly and effectively move wooden pieces about the stage.

Musical director Philip Rothman composed original music and arranged choral pieces for the production.  Scenic designer is by Tyler M. Perr,y and costume design is by Lisa Renee Jordan.

Founded in 2006 by Jake Lipman, Tongue in Cheek Theater (TIC)’s mission is to produce and create thought-provoking comedic works, including the 2014 company-created Buffalo Heights (2014 Puffin Foundation grant recipient). The Inn at Lake Devine has been developed as part of TIC’s 31st production and 10th anniversary season.

Elinor Lipman’s books include Then She Found Me (adapted into a film directed by and starring Helen Hunt), The Family Man, The View from Penthouse B and The Ladies’ Man.

The play The Inn at Lake Devine is running through October 24, 2015 at Theatre 54 @ Shetler Studios, 244 West 54 Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY.  Tickets are on sale at

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