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Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Catered Affair

The iconic Harvey Fierstein has penned a beautiful book for this new musical - originally a 1956 motion picture written by Gore Vidal and turned into a teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky. For the trivia buffs in all of us, the movie starred Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, and Debbie Reynolds.

At its core, the story here remains the same. It's a tale that sadly sums up an entire generation of teenagers of the post WWI generation. The ones that got married way too early because they "had to". It's the story of regrets, of dreams forgone, and of the desire for your children to have a better experience.

Highlights: The lovely and talented Faith Price (Noises Off, Guys and Dolls) and newcomer, Leslie Kritzer (Legally Blonde). A dramatic mother-daughter duo that will bring tears to your eyes.

Neutral: Tom Wopat - dramatic portrayal of the father was convincing and skilled, yet his singing just isn't up to the same level as his acting.

Problematic: Harvey Firestein - OK, so he's written a beautiful, poetic, and touching dramatic work for the musical theater stage. Yes, there's a gay uncle who's funny and poignant and if that's all the part was, it would be perfect for him. But the part requires singing and it just pains me to hear him attempt singing. It's a musical. If this show was possibly billed as a "Play with Music", perhaps it would be acceptable. Music and singing, in that case, would not be the focus. His stage presence, artful acting and comedic timing just could not convince me to overlook the musical deficit.

It was a mistake for Harvey take a role. Writing the part would have been enough for me to leave the theater saying, "That Harvey, he's a genius with a pen". Re-cast with powerhouse talents equal to those of Faith Prince, this show has the capacity to be a Broadway juggernaut much like it's predecessor at the Walter Kerr, Grey Gardens. As-is, it's still a poignant musical drama written by a talented iconic figure, but fails to deliver on its full potential.