NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 10:00 PM
Kecia Lewis is a brave actress.
Whether she’s a good one or not is unclear from “Mother Courage and Her Children.”
It’s impossible to tell since Lewis is clearly still finding her way in the role at Classic Stage Company (CSC), where she stepped into the lead in the 13th hour.
And she will still be grappling on Sunday, when the show wraps its revival of Bertolt Brecht’s drama about a canteen woman who makes a living off of war.
Yes, Lewis has that far to go. In lieu of a formal review, this report will do.
On Saturday afternoon, Lewis called “Line” in the first act. A prompter, in plain view in the theater, obliged. And then did so again.
It wasn’t that surprising. Before the performance began, a company manager spoke to the audience about Lewis’ limited rehearsal.
“You may have heard about cast changes,” he said.
Indeed. Tonya Pinkins, a Tony winner, abandoned the production after clashing with director Brian Kulick’s vision. Pinkins left the show after previews had already begun.
Enter Lewis, a Broadway veteran whose credits include “Once on this Island” and “Leap of Faith.”As of Saturday, she’d only done the show four times.
The audience was told that Lewis might refer to her script. She did on Saturday, consulting it late in the first act and throughout the second half.
Lewis has an intense gaze she uses well, but seeing a script with highlighted lines will take you out of a performance. And at this point her Mother Courage was mostly about decibel level; adding volume doesn’t add dimension.
Under Kulick’s 13-year reign, which ends with the next show, “Nathan the Wise,” CSC has been reliably unreliable. For every solid show there were misses that skew the balance to the negative side.
With this show, Lewis is making her debut with the company. It takes courage for an actress to perform when she knows she’s not fully ready for an audience. I look forward to her next performance to gauge what she’s got — beyond guts.
“Mother Courage and Her Children” runs through Sunday at Classic Stage Company.