World Premiere of “All the Fine Boys” Opens at Pershing Square Signature Center

World Premiere of “All the Fine Boys” Opens at Pershing Square Signature Center

From left, Alex Wolff and Isabelle Fuhrman in "All the Fine Boys" (©Monique Carboni)

Erica Schmidt’s coming-of-age play about a pair of adolescent young women desperate to take control of their first sexual experiences is both thought-provoking and terrifying. Set in the late 1980s, “All the Fine Boys” takes us back to a time when teens didn’t have the Internet to find answers for any questions they had about stuff you can’t really talk about with your parents—and your friends are just as ignorant and inexperienced as you. 

Two 14-year-old BFFs, Jenny (Abigail Breslin) and Emily (Isabelle Fuhrman), begin “All the Fine Boys” as innocent youths, gossiping about their peers at school and Emily’s crush on a high school boy she’s appearing in a play with. Determined to gain experience with the opposite sex, Jenny and Emily embark on their own path to feeling something with someone. Emily’s someone is her crush, Adam, a wiry smooth-talker played by Alex Wolff who plucks his guitar and muses about glorious things. Jenny’s someone is a man from her church (Joe Tippett)—a 28-year-old guy named Joseph who brags about skeet shooting and should know better than to toss the word “love” about regarding someone half his age/a minor. 

I admire how Schmidt’s writing captures the complexities of friendship between teenagers and Breslin and Fuhrman make believable besties, nailing both the earnest naivety and resolute stubbornness of their characters. I appreciate the honesty these actresses brought to their roles, making the play that much more relatable.  

Middle school is a weird series of years with regard to growth of all kinds—mental, physical and emotional—and is a time period that’s often look back upon as confusing or embarrassing. If you weren’t these girls, you certainly knew these girls, and because of this, the juxtaposition of Emily’s sweet courtship with an older, but still age-appropriate boy and Jenny’s increasingly stressful interactions with a less-than-respectable much older man is as fascinating as it is frightening.

As Joseph, Tippett comes across as a monster. Though the character repulsed me—as he's supposed to—I can’t help but marvel at Tippett’s dynamic performance as someone who is both scared and scary. (Tippett is one of those stage actors where if he’s in something, go see it, because his talent will knock your socks off.) As Adam, Wolff exudes charm and nonchalant wisdom, making it easy to believe why Emily is so smitten by him.

An intimate play for an intimate Off-Broadway theater, the world premiere of The New Group’s “All the Fine Boys” just opened and is playing a limited run through March 26 at the Ford Fountain Studio Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center on W. 42nd St./10th Ave. Tickets can be purchased here.

From left, Abigail Breslin and Joe Tippett in "All the Fine Boys" (©Monique Carboni)

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