Impressions a la Mode

Full Gallop has Vreeland address us directly, no apology. Given the editor's megalomaniac personality, it's not hard to imagine that she just might have had a little theater auditorium off one side of her living room. Throughout the show Vreeland communicates with her maid Yvonne (Mimi Lutz), who's not seen on stage; we only hear her voice over the apartment's intercom system. The trajectory of the show follows Vreeland's ever-fizzling attempt to put on a dinner party, as guests cancel (or just disappear, in one case) and groceries are hard to come by at the last minute.

On the other hand, the show holds few surprises. We all know Vreeland got back up on the horse that was her career and took off, full gallop. (She went on to become consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan. Meanwhile, Grace Mirabella replaced her at Vogue.) She's not a tragic figure in any respect, certainly not like the Truman Capote of Tru, who spends Christmas Eve alone. We never believe that Diana Vreeland is not going to survive her disastrous dinner party, nor that, even after getting her pink slip from Conde Nast, she's parting with her last dime.

Because there's not much at stake, Full Gallop is a tame ride. To her credit Delgado resists milking for melodrama the show's few momentary dips into real emotion. Vreeland's façade softens only once or twice, when she talks about the love she had for her husband. We sense that her marriage is one area of her life in which Vreeland didn't exaggerate. She really was in love every day. When she describes Reid dying of cancer, Delgado lets Vreeland's mask slip a nearly imperceptible inch or two. Her face quivers and then she moves on. She's captivating. Better yet she makes Vreeland much more than the sum of her fabulous epigrams, which is exactly how Diana Vreeland would have styled herself.

Full Gallop.
Written by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson. Directed by Joseph Adler. Starring Judith Delgado and Mimi Lutz. Through May 30. GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, 305-445-1119.

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