“Moments of Truth” is a gem of a musical

Every once in a while a production comes to San Francisco without any fanfare and that is a charming little chamber musical called  “Moments of Truth”. This little 90 minute drama with music and lyrics by Caroline Altman and a book by Patricia Milton is such a gem. It’s produced by the 3 Girls Theatre Company which is a non-profit company whose mission is to develop, produce and promote new plays written by San Francisco Bay Area women playwrights.

“Moments of Truth”  is all about Nan, a fortyish mid-career fine arts painter and her husband Gerald who is an art broker. They have set up a show to show her abstract landscapes. It seems a person half her age will also be showing paintings of cows. So what occurs everyone buys the paintings of cow and nary has a person purchased Nan’s landscapes. So Nan goes into a funk and her confidence wanes. She loses self-confidences as well as her trust in her husband.

Chloe enters the picture.  Chloe is Nan’s ex roommate in art school and she shows up at Nan and Gerald’s apartment with a suitcase. It seems that husband Gerald has asked her to move into the apartment.  Of course Nan is furious but finally agrees to her living there.   Chloe is what is called a “shock art” photographer.  She   photographs using a lie detector test to her models in an effort to catch these real life models in “moments of truth. Both hope to rehabilitate their careers and land an impressive prize and an exhibit in New York. To make matters worse for Nan, it seems that Chloe has eyes for Nan’s husband Gerald.  Finally Nan wonders is it time to bring the lie detector into the marriage.

Caroline Altman music is very melodious. It reminds me of a combination of William Finn and Adam Guettel score and lyrics drive the storyline forward.  The book by Patricia Milton is interesting.  She does have a way with words.

Louis Parnell has assembled a great four member cast to perform this wonderful “soup opera” and his direction is spot on in the excellent timing of the characters.  Bekka Fink gives a terrific performance as Nan.  She skillfully exposes abundance of character’s dimensions. She is sometimes fragile and ambiguous and sometimes expressive. Tyler McKenna is excellent as Gerald and he made the role a genial person. Danielle Thys adeptly plays many parts in this little opus. She gets to be forceful, colorful, devious and hypocritical all rolled into one character.  Rounding out this foursome is New York actor Douglas Giorgis who dexterously plays many roles especially the various models that are debauched or holier-than-thou.  All have excellent vocal cords.

Jeff Wincek has devised an excellent set of a living room and studio on the small stage of this intimate theatre. Scrumbly Koldewyn does a solid job of assisting on piano.

” Moments of Truth” runs through October 18th at Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa Street. San Francisco.  Tickets can be obtained on line by going to