Wearing a severe, elegant, black pantsuit with a few carefully selected, distinctive accessories, actress Diana Sheehan glides into Water Tower Theatre’s swank 1970’s era NYC apartment living room set with all the confidence, grace and elegance of a pedigreed Grand Prix level dressage horse striding onto a manicured dressage court to compete for Olympic Gold. The defining diva of haute couture arrives, in the svelte persona of Diana Vreeland.
Full Gallop, a one-woman play by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson, paints an intimate, revelatory portrait of celebrated, outspoken fashion doyenne Diana Vreeland (pronounced Deeana) at an unfortunate transitory moment in her life. Editor in chief of Vogue Magazine from 1963 through 1971, Vreeland shares how Vogue fired her (at age 68) and how she’s coping, through direct audience address, occasional phone conversation and intercom bellow to an offstage French personal assistant. She has just returned from a whirlwind vacation to Europe and is essentially broke. She’s been offered a job at the Metropolitan Museum she is not sure she wants to take. And she’s trying to put a positive spin on life by hosting a dinner party that never seems to materialize. What’s an unemployed, slightly passé fashion icon to do? Inhabit it all at full gallop…an approach that actress Diana Sheehan embraces with gusto.
Brimming over with cultivated savoir-faire and worldly charm in her portrayal, Sheehan gives the audience a strong impression of what Diana Vreeland might have been like to spend an evening with, just past the top of her game. Throughout the short, two-act evening, the ever-chatty Vreeland lets slip hints of insecurity and genuine distress about her future, in direct contrast to the brazen chutzpah she waves like a flag most of the time. Sheehan handles these brief moments with an unexpected pause mid-sentence or momentary tightened jaw and sucked in breath. Full Gallop is a highly entertaining recreation of a snapshot of celebrity life, even if it doesn’t give much actual insight into Vreeland’s inner thoughts or desires and motivations as a woman or fashion icon. Diana Sheehan glows with charisma and patrician noblesse in the role.
Full Gallop, directed by Terry Martin, runs through August 31, in the black box theatre at Addison Theatre Centre. Ms. Sheehan’s costume is designed by John Ahrens, wig by Coy Covington.
Tickets: 972.450.6232 http://www.watertowertheatre.org
Photo by Kelsey Leigh Ervi