THE HONEYMOONERS at Paper Mill Playhouse

The Honeymooners at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade; from left to right: Leslie Kritzer (Alice), Laura Bell Bundy (Trixie), Michael Mastro (Norton) and Michael McGrath (Ralph)

**1/2

I wanted to like THE HONEYMOONERS, A New Musical Comedy. It has great characters played by great actors; just look at that cast! But what book writers Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss don’t know about the construction of a musical is stupefying. In the first act alone there are two big “let’s celebrate” numbers that are totally unearned. What the hell are they celebrating? All of the comedic “bits” from the original show are here, but they trot them out for display, rather than use them to any effect. The outcome is a string of TV sitcom episodes pasted together with songs thrown in to try to make a musical.

The second act is marginally satisfying, but the music is forgettable and the lyrics are clumsy. If you want to watch “The Honeymooners,” I would suggest YouTube. There are plenty of old episodes there for free. And let’s hope that the next projects for Michael McGrath, Leslie Kritzer, Laura Bell Bundy and Michael Mastro will be worthy of their estimable talents.

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PARAMOUR

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*

Cirque Du Soleil’s PARAMOUR, playing at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway, is strictly for people who adore Acrobatics.  The plot is comparable to writing as a stick figure is to drawing, the music is instantly forgettable and the performances make wood seem affecting.  I would love to tell you who designed the gorgeous Sets and which Acrobats were amazing, but the only free program available is by way of a website and I had no cell phone coverage. Suffice it to say, this is the first time in decades that I have seen a Broadway show get a sitting ovation. 

Why anyone would open a competing circus show in the New York area at the same time as their Broadway Musical is beyond me, but I hear that Cirque Du Soleil’s Steampunk KURIOS, CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, now playing at Randall’s Island park, is a better option.

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FIORELLO! Off-Broadway

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The Berkshire Theater Group’s production of FIORELLO!. Photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.

**

I love Bock & Harnick’s score to FIORELLO!, the musical about how Fiorello LaGuardia became Mayor of New York.  Set in 1919-1934, the book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott was written in 1959 with a 1959 mentality, both good and bad.  The idea that politics is just a “song and dance” is such a breath of fresh air given the current nasty political climate, however the dated female tropes of being helpless and emotionally desperate are painful to watch, even in a period setting.

The Berkshire Theater Group has transferred their production of FIORELLO! to the East 13th Street Theater (better known as the home of Classic Stage Company).  The cast is very young.  The show feels like a college production.  The voices are untrained, the acting is uneven, the dialects are a rollercoaster of awkward sounds.  There are some gems; Dan Cassin and Chelsea Cree Groen are adorable as Floyd and Dora, Bob Moss‘ direction is smart and sophisticated, and the concise Set design packs all of the essentials.  Austin Scott Lombardi gives a credible performance as LaGuardia, a role that should be charm personified.  I am afraid this production is only for the die-hard fans of the musical.

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