Christine Lahti, Tobias Segal
When DVDS replaced VHS in the 90’s tons of films would be released, and it was assumed that anything released directly (or quickly) to DVD was because it was just not that good. Now, all the rules have changed. There was a time when a major studio might have made a film with a script as interesting as Petunia, or at least a film like this would have a limited release and a chance to find its audience in theatres. Instead this quirky and highly enjoyable film played for a week at one New York City theatre to be followed no doubt by on demand and DVD releases. Just because you have not heard of it, don’t assume that it isn’t worthy. The title does not refer to the flower; rather it is the last name of the dysfunctional NYC family at the center of the film. Brittle and a bit nuts,
Christine Lahti and David Rasche as her put upon husband are psychologists with three sons that mom especially has done a huge number on. Michael (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a depressive who has just married Vivian (Thora Birch, grown up but still looking very young. She’s also a producer of the film), Charlie (Tobias Segal, very appealing) who is gay and celibate, and Adrian (the very sexy Jimmy Heck) who is a sex addict. At Michael and Vivian’s wedding, Charlie is introduced to Vivian’s cousin (a hilarious Michael Urie) who turns out to be his neighbor and gay but with a wife (the ever talented Brittany Snow). While the second half of Petunia grows more serious and is not entirely successfully, the first half is quite funny. Praise must go to this expert cast and the 28 year old director and co-writer Ash Christian. We’ve seen numerous dysfunctional family comedies but this one stands out with characters that aren’t always sympathetic but always interesting. This is just the sort of little film that deserves one’s box office dollars as opposed to the “big” ones.
Steven Brinberg has been acclaimed for his vocal performance of Barbra Streisand for over a decade around the world. In addition to touring all over America, he has also played extensively in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Mexico and Canada, more cities then the real Barbra! He has appeared regularly in Symphony concerts across the U.S. with the late Marvin Hamlisch, Oscar-winning composer of “The Way we Were.”
He has also recorded two CDs and has appeared in several feature films and on television as well as onstage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center and on Broadway in the benefit production of FUNNY GIRL which featured Whoopi Goldberg. In addition to doing Barbra he has appeared as an actor in films such as Boys Life and Camp and Off-Broadway in Ivanov at the Jewish Rep and workshops of Ken Page’s musical Night Life at the Westbeth and Manhattan Theatre Club and as the voice of David Spade on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch.