WLS Review: Robert Newman Is Holding "Sessions"

Dr. Peterson, known affectionately as “Pete” by his clients, has a problem.  He may appear to have a thriving psychotherapy practice in Manhattan, a successful marriage, and the perception of being “debonair”, “suave”, and completely put together by others.  But behind closed therapy doors, Pete is struggling with erotic fantasies, insecure thoughts, and intruding dreams of dancing at the Roseland Ballroom.  He finds meaning by helping others, while his own superego (ie, conscience) yells, “You haven’t got a clue when it comes to your own crap!” These are a few of the quandaries facing our hero in the Off-Broadway production of "Sessions."

Robert Newman, best known to soap fans as Joshua Lewis on GUIDING LIGHT, effectively and smoothly portrays Pete’s professional relationship with his clients in individual and group therapy sessions, while seamlessly exposing Pete’s inner torments and struggles. The audience becomes privy to some of the common moral and ethical dilemmas therapists face every day. From over-identifying with a patient, to feeling completely useless in the middle of a couples session, to experiencing existential diminishment when tragedy befalls a beloved client, Sessions allows a unique glimpse into the complicated and often paradoxical world of a practicing psychotherapist. 

While this may not initially sound not like light family musical theater, "Sessions" does deliver it’s share of upbeat musical numbers, humorous dialogue, and hopeful messages.  As a therapist myself, I enjoyed watching this fictional portrayal of the real-life challenging and inspirational work we do every day.

Here's the S.A.S.S. [Short Attention Soap Summary]

WHAT:  "Sessions," a new musical written by Albert M. Tapper, directed by Thomas Cote, and starring Robert Newman is now playing at the Algonquin Theater (123 E. 24th Street).  NOTE:  THE SHOW ENDS JANUARY 3, 2010! DON'T WAIT!

WHY SOAP FANS WILL LOVE IT:  Witnessing characters with complex motivations grow and change is the hallmark of good soap opera.  "Sessions" has all this plus Robert Newman singing and dancing!

BOTTOM LINE: Anyone who enjoyed the stories featuring Josh Lewis’s moral shades of grey during his 27 year run on GUIDING LIGHT will love Robert Newman in this role. Otalia fans and “Venetians” will enjoy seeing Olivia’s go-to drinking buddy back in action. 

VERDICT:  Ditch your therapy this week and come see Sessions instead! It will give you and your therapist a lot to talk about in your own “sessions”.  Click here for tickets. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Please check back later this week for my interview with Robert Newman about "Sessions," GUIDING LIGHT, and how he approaches his own personal/private persona. 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is blogging about surviving the holidays at www.shouldless.com.

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