OOBR review of a Development Workshop
February, 2004

by Elias Stimac
"Reporter Girl” is a dramatic work based on the creator of the comic strip 'Brenda Starr Reporter.' Laura Rohrman's fictionalized account has more than a ring of truth to it -- the syndicated artist was her real-life grandmother, Dale Messick.
Set in the late '30s and '40s, the work uses both history and fantasy to tell Messick's story. Dale was initially portrayed by Betty Hudson as an elderly woman being cared for by her daughter Starr (Amy Dickenson) and serving as an inspiration for her equally driven granddaughter Melanie (Elise Falanga). But flashbacks bring back the vibrant Dale of the 1930s and '40s, who also stands in as a flesh-and-blood version of pulp heroine Brenda Starr.
Marilyn Harris captures the independent verve and vigor of the younger woman and her headstrong creation, even when she is being seduced by an ace reporter (Chad Brigockas) or mentored by her tough-as-nails editor (McCredy Baker). Brigockas and Baker were perfectly cast in their period roles.
Hudson also made a lasting impression as the older Messick, displaying bursts of wit and energy while in her frail state. Dickenson had a touching scene as a frightened youngster watching her parents argue, and Falanga was feisty as the modern-day Web reporter.
The rest of the cast did a credible job of playing the other people in Dale's life -- Michael Dermansky as an abusive husband and April Preveteaux as a troublesome co-worker.
Li Murillo staged the proceedings with creativity, even within the limited surroundings of the minimal set. One side of the stage served as the past, the other the present, helping viewers keep track of time and place. Marisol Lopez is responsible for the functional lighting for the show.
Reporter Girl