Monday, March 25, 2013

Theater Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Emilia Clarke and Vito Vincent in a scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on Broadway. Photo: Nathan Johnson
Loved the Clothes and the Cat, but the Rest of Breakfast Was Hard to Swallow
By Lauren Yarger
This review will be brief. I hate taking a lot of time to point out all of the shortcomings of a show, and there are many in the world premiere of Richard Greenberg's stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's at Broadway Cort Theatre.

If you are a fan of the 1961 movie starring Audrey Hepburn, you will find this rendition less subtle, less witty, less charming. It casts Holly Golightly as an apparent prostitute, rather than a goldigging sort of girl who dates wealthy men in the hopes of snagging a wedding ring from one of them. If you haven't seen the film or read the novella by Truman Capote, on which it was based, you won't be able to compare, but you will find this version troublesome nonetheless.

Too many scene changes (one set piece got stuck the night I attended) with distracting video projection (Derek McLane should get overtime pay for the set demands; Wendall K. Harrington is the production designer) can't hide a less-than-riveting book and the fact that its young actors, "Game of Thrones"' star and breathtakingly beautiful Emilia Clarke, and Cory Michael Smith, both making their Broadway debuts, are in over their heads.

It's a shame, because both are talented actors. Clarke has created one of the most compelling characters on the wildly popular  HBO series, originating the role of Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. I often have been impressed with her acting ability while rooting for her to win the Iron Throne. Here, however, she has bitten off more than she can chew stepping into role that is too iconic and better suited for a more mature stage actor. Director Sean Mathias lets her hide behind a strange, unidentifiable and annoying accent. She's trying to be bubbly and flirtatious and confident, but we see her trying, not being.

Smith, who recently turned in a top-notch performances Off-Broadway in The Cockfight Play and The Whale, never finds his beat as Fred, Holly's friend and sort-of love interest. It may be the difficulty in trying to make the dialogue sound plausible. With lines like "I've seen it more times than you have toes," and "I'm going to march you over to the zoo and feed you to the yak," everybody's working hard here. The supporting cast: Tony Torn plays a man Holly is interested in who marries her best friend, Mag (played by Kate Cullen Roberts). Pedro Carmo plays another of Holly's conquests. Suzanne Bertish turns in two memoriable performances as "Stern Lady Boss" who fires Fred from his and "Madame Spanella," an apparent neighbor of Holly and Fred who bursts into their rooms for no apparent reason delivering odd one-liners, the significance of which isn't always clear (along with some parts of the plot).

Enough time taken on the negative, except to reiterate that this production doesn't work on a lot of levels (and throwing in a totally unnecessary nude scene for the two leads didn't distract me from the mess either.)

Let me focus instead, on a few things that are positive:
  • Cat. Three felines share the spotlight as Holly's pet, named only Cat: Montie, Moo and Vito Vincent. From their publicity photos (yes, I'm not joking), I believe I saw Vito, picture above. He hit his mark and exited on cue every time. Auditions actually were held for the role of Cat. The casting call included this wording: "Felines with Broadway dreams are encouraged to submit a photo and owner contact information . . . A casting session will be held during the week of February 11, 2013 to groom the candidates for Broadway stardom. " Now that's fun. Even more amusing is Vito's bio in the show's Playbill: Vito "wasn't always in the limelght: When he was just seven months old his owners gave him up to a shelter. Since his re-adoption, Vito has become a real star and a therapy animal rated 'complex.' Credits include, among others, '30 Rock,' 'Colbert Nation,' 'Animal Planet,' 'Meow Mix,' Target stores and cardstore.com."
  • Seeing Norm behind the bar. George Wendt, who starred for years as barstool warmer Norm on TV's Cheers, plays barkeep Joe Bell. I almost expected the audience to greet him with a shouted, "Norm!" at the curtain call just like patrons at Cheers used to do when he walked through the door.
  • The clothes. Every frock Clarke wears (in 1940s style by Costume Designer Colleen Atwood) is more beautiful than the last. From the first dress with decorative buttons down the sleeves to beautiful gowns with diagonal ribbons and sashes, Atwood, a 10-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner ("Chicago," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Alice in Wonderland") creates beauty with stunning color choices and beautiful lines for her first Broadway production. The combination of the costumes with Clarke's stunning features creates an alluring, glamorous look.
Breakfast at Tiffany's plays at the Cort Theatre, 138 west 48th St., NYC. Tickets and info: 212-239-6200; http://www.breakfastattiffanysonbroadway.com/.

Christians also might like to know:
-- Show does not post a MATURE advisory, but should.
-- Nudity
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Homosexuality
-- Language

No comments:

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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