|Emilia Clarke and Vito Vincent in a scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on Broadway. Photo: Nathan Johnson|
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.
Christians also might like to know:
-- Show does not post a MATURE advisory, but should.
-- God's name taken in vain