March 2006
(as River Heights Productions)
MRS. CALIFORNIA by Doris Baizley
Directed by Megan R. Wills
The 78th Street Theatre Lab
236 West 78th Street at Broadway, New York City

Sets, Costume and Property Designer:  Viviane Galloway
Graphic Designer:  Ifaat Querishi
Press Representative:  Judd Hollander, Bunch of People Press and PR
Press Photographer:  David Anthony
Archival Photographer:  Viviane Galloway

Starring: Elizabeth Burke, Heather E. Cunningham, David DiLoretto,
Matilda Szydagis, Jim Kilkenny, India McDonald, and Kristen Vaughan.

"This meticulously presented, charming, emotionally affecting play by Doris Baizley is based on a mid-1950s competition to find the best housewife in California...  River Heights Productions, a small, fairly new company whose work I did not previously know, does a very impressive job turning the script into theatre. Director Megan R. Wills allows her actors to create characters with great style and flair but without indulging their excesses...  Dave DiLoreto and Jim Kilkenny, as men who happen to be involved in the contest, are just right...  Viviane Galloway's set is pretty: a series of ovens and stoves carefully and lovingly prepared, like the production itself. " -  Michael Lazan, Backstage

"Kristen Vaughan, Matilda Szydagis and India Myone McDonald, are terrific as the other contestants, as they manage to portray both their doll-like exteriors as well as their own private struggles...  Mrs. California is a valiant effort with a lot of heart, and River Heights Productions should be praised for being the first company to bring this marvelous play to New York City. The play is remarkably adept at showing how women have been fighting to be treated as individuals for generations, and how “femininity” (and perhaps “feminism”) is an ever-changing concept. It also highlights a very important message—that behind every great woman is another great woman who is her friend." -  Josephine Cashman, (NYTheatre gave us a star! Starred shows are considered to be noteworthy or of special interest by NYTE's editor.)

"The play is strongest when we catch a glimpse of the complex personalities that lie beneath the judge-charming caricatures these women have created for themselves. Cunningham believably fleshes out Dot's seemingly mindless character through the slow revealing of hidden facets you wouldn't have guessed she possessed. A climactic speech about her "proudest moment" is stirring and strong, especially in the stunned moment when she trembles with the realization that her mother, aunts, and grandmother fought for equality, and here she stands, a competent woman who saved hundreds of soldiers' lives, struggling to earn respect by ironing a shirt. Within her lies a fiery, determined spirit that has been too easily and thoroughly suppressed." -  Adrienne Cea,  [Pick of the Week, March 24th, 2006]

"Retro’s production of Mrs. California was a real treat for me. The high-spirited team of actors, inventive use of the space, and attention to every detail brought the play to life in so many surprising ways, I forgot I’d written it and just sat back and enjoyed it. Retro’s skillful dedication to work by women playwrights makes me proud to be one." -  Doris Baizley, playwright, Mrs. California