Reviews

• SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN – 2016

“A Wonderful First-Person Trip Down Celluloid Memory Lane…captivating performance…charismatic” – Broadway World Los Angeles review of SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN

• SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN SUPER 8 – 2016

“This movie works subtly, delightfully, and then shatteringly by showing us first a woman as free on earth, on the beach, walking among trees, passing other people, and then making us slowly aware that she is actually visiting the Earth, having had to leave it. But visiting it unself-consciously, without evident grief, without rancor, and finding her new relationship to it, which some people would think might be traumatic but is actually, in Jen Danby’s performance of it and in the way the movie is shot, a joyous one. We grasp all this increasingly as the movie goes on and then slowly, inexorably, as Sharon approaches the road and then the house where she met her death, we see the terrible truth behind all this, and then the movie is over. Yes. It’s shattering. But even then it’s full of a spiritual richness, a concern not for herself but for the feelings and the sensibilities of the audience, a wish not to associate anything they’ve seen with the sordidness, the vileness of what was done to her. All this seems to encapsulate feelings we now realize we’ve always had about Sharon Tate, and the beauty and the mystery of her relationship to life and death. This movie simply is not like any other movie. Let it move in on you. Let it move you. Let it take you places.” – Austin Pendleton, Tony-nominated and Obie-winning director

“I sincerely loved watching Sharon Tate in Heaven. Jen is both a remarkable actress and spiritual medium as she brings this art to the world with such grace, elegance and beauty.” – Sean Patrick, published author of That Guy Who Loves the Universe: A Modern Tale of Setbacks, Second Chances and Spiritual Enlightenment

• CHARLIE AND SHARON – 2016

And Danby, so appealing as Tate, has a marvelous quiet power that holds everything together, making you feel her loss deep within, a beautiful piece of acting that you won’t soon forget. – Thom Racina

“The thing about Jen Danby’s interesting and provocative new play in her Sharon Tate trilogy, CHARLIE AND SHARON, created with Daniel Delano, is that you walk in armed with almost too much knowledge about the characters, Charles Manson and Sharon Tate. No one who lived through that awful August in 1969 will ever forget the headlines, and the very thought of that incident still makes us shudder. So, you walk into the theater saying what else can they tell us? Is there anything, after all the books and reporting, especially Helter Skelter (both in print and the film), more we can learn? The answer is plenty.

For Danby and Delano brilliantly take a contrarian approach to the characters from what one might expect or imagine. If you are going to this play to learn about the gore of the night of the murder, forget it. This is on another level entirely, and a fascinating one. As in her previous one-woman show SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN, the first part of this trilogy that has played in New York and Los Angeles, Danby gives a well-rounded and deeply emotional look at Tate the woman, not Tate the starlet. In that play, she gave us a young actress who we could understand, relate to, even love…a subtle way of showing what Manson had taken from the people who loved her, and her many fans.

This show adds something potent: the character of Manson himself. Told in four scenes starting with soon after the murders and then evolving to present day, we see Tate as she was the day she died, but with Manson, we see him age and finally soften. Played by a wonderful young actor named Daniel Delano, Manson is every bit as nutty and askew as history books and interviews have portrayed him (you see those vacant Manson eyes), but we see moments of utter rage, we see almost a self-hatred coming to light, we witness denial and more denial and then…bang. Sharon finally, as we have been on the edge of our seats for, asks the big question: why? Why did he murder her and her child?

I will not give away his answer, but let me say that it spins out in a direction I would never have guessed, and that is wonderful theatre–the expected question, but an unexpected, satisfying, moving answer that leaves you looking back over the entire short evening with scrutiny, to discover some of the answers to Sharon’s big question have already been answered, sometimes in physical ways. It is a complex piece, and those expecting something on the surface should stay home. The play has resonance.

Danby and Delano have done a beautiful job crafting this wonderful show, and the famed Austin Pendleton has done a skillful job directing it, with Delano giving it an energy of one of the great mass murderers of our time. And Danby, so appealing as Tate, has a marvelous quiet power that holds everything together, making you feel her loss deep within, a beautiful piece of acting that you won’t soon forget. Kudos to all.

What I can’t stop thinking about, days after seeing it, is the levels it touches, the depth it has, the reach that goes well beyond the headlines. It is a short play, only about 100 minutes I think, but the magic it produces certainly gives credence to the old saying that great gifts come in small packages.”- Thom Racina, Head Writer GENERAL HOSPITAL (ABC), Novelist, Playwright of the musical ALLISON WONDERLAND

“Keep the faith. You’re beautiful.” – Austin Pendleton, director and Obie and Drama Desk award winner

“Jen Danby and Daniel Delano are riveting. The show is fascinating to me from start to finish. There are some very touching moments.” Waltrudis Buck, actress in Woody Allen’s films EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU, opposite Julia Roberts, and DECONSTRUCTING HARRY

“CHARLIE AND SHARON is a powerful and engaging experience of watching the two of you (Jen Danby and Daniel Delano) masterfully and effortlessly play off each other in an unexpectedly humorous and splendidly complex way. I’m still blown away.” – Liz Keifer, actress GUIDING LIGHT (CBS)

• CALIFORNIA GIRL: BEING MICHELLE PFEIFFER – 2016

You never stopped being Michelle for a second…Edie Kalickstein

“Thank you so much for your program on Michelle Pfeiffer. In your own unique way, you introduced us to someone we’ve never met before. You brought Michelle Pfeiffer to our stage. You did her proud! Your skills as an actress were highlighted in this performance. You never stopped being Michelle for a second…We are grateful to you for coming up with such a unique idea and sharing your creative talent with our Long Beach community.” – Edie Kalickstein, Program Director, Long Beach Public Library

SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN – 2014

A haunting performance…poignant and moving. – KudaGo.com New York

“There is a difference between breathless and frenzied. One can unquestionably be breathless for lengthy periods, yet not lose focus, intent or purpose. Jennifer Danby, well-respected for her lengthy resume with Mississippi Mud Productions and her heralded work on many Tennessee Williams classics, can testify to the difference. She takes Breathless to a whole new level.

As writer and star of SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN, Danby executes a breathless 95 minute performance as the tragically-murdered actress that was involved in one of the most heinous and well-documented crimes of all time. Tate, lover [and wife] of noted director Roman Polanski, and carrying their child at the time of her homicide, was an iconic, almost-mystical figure in the late 60s. Was she the next great pin-up and “it” girl or was she merely a beautiful face with nary a lasting thought? Danby brings her to life in an other-worldy breeziness via an interview setting. Sitting across from an empty interviewer’s seat, Tate handles this after-life interview with a stunning conversation. It is relentless, punctuated by micro-pauses that seem to be the missing questions of her ever-shifting chat. It’s a tour-de-force to be sure.

Another interesting aspect to the play is that Danby, barefoot, blue-jeaned and clad in simple tank top and bandana, winds up giving Tate her identity back. While her essence and life were robbed by the sensationalism of Charles Manson and followers (the perpetrators), Danby gives Tate her voice back in this final act. Clearly, Danby holds Tate in great reverence, and under the watchful eye of noted character actor/director Austin Pendleton, has carved out a piece that is equal parts informative, moving and respectful without even hinting at overblown or preachy. One comes away feeling they knew someone we had precious little time to absorb.

Due to return later this year (it’s playing Los Angeles in the near future), SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN is an engaging, breathless ride through a show business figure’s soul. Danby, who can command the stage with the best of them, can be seen bringing Marilyn Monroe to life as well at the Long Beach Library in December. It may not be a breathless, but I”m willing to bet it will be every bit as intimate, provocative, and enjoyable.” – John Blenn, LIVE Magazine, Sept. 2014 on August 16 2014 show Lido Beach NY

“I could see my sister Sharon and hear her in moments watching this play, and it made me want to cry because it was like she was there again sometimes. Kudos to Jen Danby’s ability as an actress to actually capture aspects of Sharon’s personality, and for times when I could feel Sharon was saying something…This is a play well done. Jen Danby captures Sharon’s essence, sweetness, and kindness. I was able to actually hear Sharon’s voice in this well acted interpretation. Beautifully brilliant.” – Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister

“Cleverly and brilliantly done. SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN. We were in Heaven.” – Sissy Gamache, “The Sissy Gamache Show,” MNN Channel 56, Time-Warner

“Jen Danby completely disappeared inside the character. I saw Sharon Tate, not Miss Danby. That’s the way. She was living it, being it.” – Jack Hofsiss, Tony Winning Broadway Director, THE ELEPHANT MAN; Film/TV Director: I’M DANCING AS FAST AS I CAN and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF with Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones

“I love Jen’s Sharon. Jen has found a whole new way of acting and working on a role with her work on Sharon. This is an affinity. This is a match made in heaven.” – Austin Pendleton, Obie Willing and Tony Nominated Director and Drama Desk Renaissance Man of the American Theatre award winner, director of SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN

“SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN is a unique and compelling piece of theater by an artist who is both a skillful writer and a talented actress. Jen Danby lets Sharon talk; she simply talks. Her talk, however, is filled with both the experience of a particular woman and the hopes, longings, frustrations and fears of all of us…Stunning.” – Geoffrey Owens, actor, Broadway’s ROMEO AND JULIET with Orlando Bloom, THE COSBY SHOW

“I got the chance to see Jen Danby in SHARON TATE IN HEAVEN, and I am so glad I did. I didn’t know much about the star prior to going, and this play gave me the opportunity to get an intimate view of the star and her tragic life. As an actress myself, I was so interested in learning how Tate’s career unfolded alongside her very famous Hollywood love affair and marriage with Roman Polanski. She seemed like such a gentle soul who went through so much! I found her fascinating! Thank you Jen Danby for presenting her in such a likable fashion to peak my interest in the star and make me go home and do more research on her! Everything from Danby’s voice to physicality was so captivating. Jen Danby is a true actress!” – Gloria Garayua of GREY’S ANATOMY, COUGAR TOWN

“It was a brilliant performance. I saw Jen’s previous performances many times. But this was a totally different character. I could tell she spent a long time investigating and investing. I could see Sharon Tate’s life of joy, sadness and love through and in her body and the total experience of the acting. A must see.” – Toshiji Takeshima, TRUE BLOOD, HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA

• VIEUX CARRE – JUNE 2014 (Played Jane Sparks and Directed)

“Watching you act is like getting on a roller coaster I don’t know where you are going to go each night and I like it” – Ms. Waltrudis Buck, Julia Roberts’ psychiatrist in “Everyone Says I Love You,” on Jen Danby as Jane Sparks

• SEAGULL69 – FEBRUARY 2014

As “the beautiful Nina, Jen Danby is sterling …intimate, credible, real, moment-to-moment. Special kudos go to Jen Danby….

Danby’s smothering of Nina’s light and soul by degrees is breathtaking. Her exploration of Nina’s polluted and tainted being exacted during the end scene with Konstantine where she paws and taunts him gives credence to Konstantine’s mortal response, making it all the more believable. ” – Carole Di Tosti Theatre Review (NYC) February 17, 2014

“Constantly swaying about like she’s high on life, Danby has crafted Nina into someone resembling Janis Joplin. Danby brings to Nina a fragile and mysterious quality that helps the character grow into a tower of strength. She embodies the happy hippie culture of the sixties in the first act, idealistic and full of dreams. But as the play fast-forwards in time, Nina’s hard times show in Danby’s face. Danby reflects the ’60s generation as they start to feel the ravages of Vietnam. It’s a striking image when, in Nina’s final scene, she is full of longing for a time that she can never get back.” – Ryan Hudak in “New York Theatre Review” February 7, 2014

“Jen Danby’s Nina in our SEAGULL69 at Mississippi Mud was, is, a revelation to me. A revelation about the whole play. It was Jen’s idea to set Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL in LA in 1969 (with Act Four in 1971, after LA had turned pretty dark). This idea in itself was very exciting to work with, and it was amazing what it did for the character of Nina, and for Jen’s literally breathtaking performance in that role. Jen became a whole new version of Chekhov’s Nina blended with an absolutely accurate portrait of a certain kind of lost, strong, drugged sometimes, lucid, ambitious, innocent, challenging girl that I met, in those days, in LA, all the time. It was exciting to me as director to be part of her work process in the show, and she and her work transformed the whole event for all of us involved with it.” – Austin Pendleton

• CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF – OCTOBER 2013

“Jen Danby and Jamie Moore are electric as Maggie and Brick Pollitt respectively. Their scene is fraught with sexual tension and disgust for one another. No doubt that these two have chemistry and we follow their story without ever losing interest…amazing performances” – “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Sizzles” – Nick Linnehan, Theatre That Matters

• THE BLONDE BOMBSHELL PROJECT – JUNE 2013

“You found all the colors of Marilyn Monroe.” – Olympia Dukakis, Academy Award Winning Actress

• SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER – FEBRUARY 2013

“Danby’s unconventional take on Catharine is notable for the physical and mental disarray caused by her protracted incarceration in a Catholic insane asylum. Danby never lets that focus overwhelm the character, however, and she is riveting in Catharine’s long climactic monologue describing Sebastian’s demise. – “‘Suddenly, Last Summer'” Has Some Fine Acting Going On.” – Eric Haagensen, Backstage.com

“fine performances…Danby’s traumatized Catharine…” makes “vivid impressions.” – Frank Scheck, New York Post

• VIVIEN LEIGH: THE LAST PRESS CONFERENCE – MARCH 2012

“Danby captivates and charms as Vivien; she displays a poised effervescence. Her regal, rich voice is clear and confident. She easily oscillates between flirting, ladylike laughter, and startling crude language. Her grace lures the audience in, which makes her subtle shift into madness all the more disturbing. This last bit of the performance, which focuses on Vivien’s madness, feels like a stone slowly and softly sinking in your stomach…I initially wondered why do the play today? Why do this production right now? After seeing the production, I found the answer: Danby. The piece showcases her excellent acting…she shines. ” – Ellen Joffred, TheaterOnline.com

“gallant…triumphs. If there’s a theatrical equivalent of the Purple Heart, the medal is hers. Particularly notable is Danby’s expert aging of Leigh, stretching from the high-spirited girl who believes that ‘if you want something with all your heart and soul, you’ll get it’ to the tired and lonely woman who can see ‘the mania coming on like on oncoming train’…even when she’s in your face you can sense an innate reserve. The tension created underlines the dichotomy of a woman who wanted to be both just one of the boys and theatrical royalty.” – Erik Haagensen, Backstage.com