Many years ago, eons really, there was this thing known as the “sex comedy”. They were all over Broadway and the West End; they usually involved one very handsome guy and about 6 very beautiful women, and sometimes the very handsome guy had a really stupid and naïve friend, and eventually, it was the kind of Broadway flop that inspired an equally stupid but very profitable movie starring big name entertainers and everybody lived happily ever after because Broadway in the 60’s was a breeding ground for material that eventually became a truly awful but very profitable movie. Such was the case of a thing called “Boeing, Boeing”, a British flop that lasted about 50 performances on the Great White Way, then became a Tony Curtis/Jerry Lewis movie that made a lot of dough, but did nothing for either actor’s career (but hey, did either guy care at the time? NAHHHH)…So, this kind of play was and is done in summer stock and dinner theatres forever….I once saw a forgotten sex comedy called “The Marriage-Go-Round” , which had a very short run on Broadway in the 60’s, at a place called the Meadowbrook Dinner Theatre, in New Jersey (Short Hills, anyone?) which someone had the bright idea to run with the inspired team of Ozzie and Harriet! I swear I’m only 54 years young, but even Ozzie and Harriet were old stuff back then, yet the place was packed! Ozzie even did a standup routine after the curtain call! Don’t ask me why I remember, I was in high school at the time!
Anyway, on Broadway right now, there is a sparkling, beautiful, brilliantly funny revival of “Boeing, Boeing”, directed within an inch of it’s life, that you MUST see. It’s a classic 60’s set-up….playboy living in Paris is juggling three girlfriends, all air hostesses, with different schedules…he can enjoy all 3 because air travel is still primitive (it’s the 60’s!) and they don’t come in contact with the others. One Saturday, an old friend visits..he’s a nerd…very shy, kinda stupid..not great with women…and then-all HELL breaks loose…the schedules get goofy, the three are all on the ground at the same time..the friend is the go-between…it’s exhausting to even try to describe a sex farce, so I’m not even going to go much further…..let’s just say it gets complicated.
The beauty of this revival is the sublime direction of Matthew Warchus, who manages to pitch the whole thing at warp speed..it moves like the wind, and its actors are carried along with it as it goes. There are two standout performances here and I predict they’ll both win Tony Awards for their efforts. (Hey, check my track record for last year’s awards). As the best friend, Mark Rylance is a joy to watch…an accomplished Shakespearian actor, his timing is flawless, his sense of comedy, spot-on. He makes it look so easy, but as any actor will tell you, COMEDY IS HARD! He shoots, he scores! As one of the air hostesses, the GERMAN one, Mary McCormack is just a revelation. She so nails the role, it would be a crime if they didn’t reward her with a Tony Award, and if they can’t do that, how about they just promise her she’ll be a working actress the rest of her days…will that do? I have to admit, as a result of this performance, I’ll be a Mary McCormack junkie the rest of my days. The entire cast is just swell; the set is gorgeous, the lighting, perfect; I can’t complain about a single thing in this show except perhaps, the worst French accent I’ve ever been exposed to from the lovely Christine Baranski. The good news is this-friends say you can now understand most of what she’s saying, now that the play has been running awhile…good news, indeed! See this now, and book before the Tony Awards-I predict it will win Best Revival on June 15th!
There is a sadly limited run of a heartfelt one man piece starring and written by one of my favorite actors, John Lithgow. I will always treasure the evening of March 13th, 1973. That is the night I first experienced Mr. Lithgow’s brilliance in a play called “The Changing Room”, about rugby footballers in their locker room, before and after a game. Lithgow won his first Tony Award for that; I will never forget that performance, I’ve seen Mr. Lithgow so many times since that evening, but that was such a raw, gut wrenching experience-I knew I was a Lithgow admirer for life that night….since then, I’ve seen him in everything he’s done from “Spokesong” to “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”. His solo piece is called “Stories By Heart” and it’s sooo personal-about what he did to bring his aged father back from the brink after his dad’s life-altering surgery. What he did was READ to him..as his father had done many years before to John and his siblings…and what John does in this 90 minute piece is enact the story he performed for his father in his Dad’s low days following the operation.
I truly adored this piece…anyone with aged parents can’t help it. Tickets are scarce, but try as hard as you can…it’s one of the best nights off-Broadway you can find.
I would love to take a buncha time guessing about the rest of the Tony Award winners-BUT I CAN’T! Last year, I upset some people. and far be it from me….