Saturday, June 27, 2015

Shows for Days ***

Douglas Carter Beane’s comedic memoir, now in previews at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitizi E. Newhouse Theater, recounts the events of the year the playwright turned 15 in a suburb of Reading, Pennsylvania and joined a local community theater where he discovered his place in the world and first experienced sex and unrequited love. His story is not particularly original or well-told and he panders shamelessly to an audience largely composed of gays and Jews.  The second act is a mess with plot developments that are downright implausible. However, if you forget about the plot and sit back to enjoy an almost nonstop series of hilarious one-liners, you will have a very good time. It helps tremendously that the young Beane, known here as Car, is played by the always-appealing Michael Urie (Buyer & Cellar) and that the theater’s artistic director Irene is the iconic Patti LuPone. We also meet Sid, the theater’s lesbian co-founder and manager (a wonderful Dale Soules); Clive, the company’s flamboyantly gay lead actor (a delightful Lance Coadie Williams); Damien, a handsome actor/waiter who is bisexual (Jordan Dean); and Maria, the young actress (Zoë Winters) whose role is notably underwritten. John Lee Beatty’s set combines an open stage with a back wall over-cluttered with props. The costumes by William Ivey Long are a good part of the fun. Jerry Zaks’s direction does not aim for subtlety.  The opportunity to see Urie, LuPone and a fine supporting cast keeping the zingers flying went a long way, at least for me, to overcome the play’s weaknesses. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes including intermission.

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