JBKO – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

All too often famous people like Princess Diana, Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes and Harper Lee lose their privacy as the price for being in the spotlight. The more elusive they become, the more desirable their photos are for the ever present cameras of the paparazzi. To protect their glamorous and mysterious mystiques, the women often wear dark sunglasses to shield their face and, ultimately, their soul.

Receding from public scrutiny can become an art form and no one managed that skill more than Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, the subject of a revealing one woman show, a world premiere, at Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre in “JBKO The Life. The Legend. The Legacy” until Sunday, June 30.

We know the high and low points of Jackie’s role as “queen” of her Camelot, her famous marriages, her status as First Lady, the tragic death of J.F.K., her protective arms around her children, her careers early on and again later as book editor and yet very little about Jacqueline the woman.

Playwright Tom Santopietro has long been fascinated by the Kennedys, beginning when Jack was a candidate for president in 1960. Santopietro was among the tens of thousands in the crowd when, two days before the election, J.F.K visited Waterbury. As a writer, he was always intrigued by Jackie, the woman who was “famously private,” who did not grant interviews, and he wanted to give the world his personal look behind the sunglasses. And what a look it is!

Marina Shay embodies Jackie and, for the first time, is sharing her story with an audience, with her real thoughts and reactions revealing a delightful sense of humor, a love of the dance, a little mischief, a sense of all the painful moments she survived, her guilt over not being able to save Jack from an assassin’s bullet, her need for affection after he died, her honesty in living life as she knew it with no compromises, taking no prisoners. Marina Shay captures the spirit of a woman who still searched for the joys even when she lived in what she termed at times ‘‘a fancy prison.”

Semina De Laurentis directs this beautiful portrait of a First Lady with sensitivity and style, on a lovely living room set by Kimberly Jackson. For tickets ($37.00), call Seven Angels Theatre, Hamilton Park, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at boxoffice@sevenangelstheatre.org. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Many performances come with speciality treats like apizza, candy or ice cream.

Let Marina Shay do her magic as your intimate and charming guide, not of a tour of the White House, but into her private world as she discovers herself and her complicated world called Camelot.