NEW YORK THEATER SUMMER 2014
Earlier this month, I saw three plays in NYC– two I liked very much, one not so much. But none were as much fun as A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder which opened last fall and is still going strong at the Walter Kerr Theatre. (NOTE: If the producers replace leading man Jefferson Mays, skip it, as he IS the show.)
Based on Moss Hart’s bestselling autobiography of the same name (Frank Rich calls it “the greatest showbiz book ever written”) this production stars Tony Shaloub (as the elder Moss Hart and other roles,) Andrea Martin (as Aunt Kate and other roles,) and the talented Santino Fontana (Moss Hart as a young man.)
If you love the theater, you’ll love this play. My only caveat– a bit too long.
Bullets Over Broadway St James Theatre
Despite somewhat lukewarm reviews, this BIG musical based on the Woody Allen film and directed by the incomparable Susan Stroman offers plenty of pizzazz –colorful sets, witty costumes ( hot dogs,) snappy dance numbers, lots of leggy chorus girls (who appear in every scene, plot be damned!) and first rate performances.
Inevitably unfavorable comparisons have been made to Stroman’s other BIG musical The Producers. Although the Stroman touch is everywhere in evidence, Bullets is simply not as funny as The Producers because, well, Woody Allen is not as funny as Mel Brooks.
Bullets is also missing something else– Producers alumnus Matthew Broderick. The lead role of the hapless playwright cries out for Broderick’s trademark shtick.
Zach Braff (of TV sit-com Scrubs) is perfectly adequate in the lead role, but no one does whinny, put-upon characters better than Broderick. (Having said that, the young woman seated next to me at the performance squealed with delight (literally) when Braff appeared on stage, so what do I know?)
Outstanding performances from well-known performers –Marin Mazzie (Kiss Me Kate/Broadway), Helene Yorke (Masters of Sex/TV), Karen Ziemba (Contact/Broadway) and Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos/TV).
An enjoyable if not memorable evening.
City of Conversation Lincoln Center
Despite excellent performances from a pack of Broadway pros (you’d recognize every actor if not from Broadway then from Law & Order), City of Conversation is disappointing. The play about a legendary Washington, DC hostess is awkward and preachy. The current run at LC was extend for two weeks which absolutely mystifies me. But no matter, you don’t’ need to see it.