Beautified, Tony Abatemarco's simply beautiful dramedy, is both a love letter to his brother, the play's subject, and a poignant tribute to a long-term, platonic relationship between a man and a woman.
In 1969, recently relocated from Long Island, groovy Mike (Rob Brownstein) takes a chance and opens his own beauty parlor in Framingham, Mass. The first customer to walk in is uptight socialite Candy (Karen Austin), and while they don't immediately hit it off, they soon become fast friends. Candy frequently clashes with Mike's salon assistant, Sally (Joanna Strapp), who openly disapproves of Sally's casual thievery.
Direct audience address charts the leaps from one decade to the next, as do the salon's name changes and shifting decor, which keeps pace with each era's most outrageous fashions.
Abatemarco lets his story gently reveal itself through character interaction and dialogue. Director Jenny Sullivan does a great job coaxing genuine performances from her first-rate cast of three, while fabulous costumes (Allison Leach) and prop detail (set and lighting by Jeff McLaughlin) add plenty of amusing color. Cate Caplin's choreography for an unexpected fantasy dance sequence toward the end concisely conveys everything you need to know about Candy's allure and Mike's unrealized desire. Beautified is a gorgeous play.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through July 22, 2012

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