Larry David and Rita Wilson/ Photo: Joan Marcus
By Lauren Yarger
Every word that comes out of Larry David’s mouth in Broadway’s Fish in the Dark sounds just like something Jerry Seinfeld would say. Maybe that’s because everything Jerry said in the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” was kind of what its co-creators David or Seinfeld would say.
Fish in the Dark, also written by David, who makes his Broadway debut as its star alongside a bunch of other star power, feels like an episode from the TV show, so if it you have been missing “Seinfeld” since Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer faded into reruns when the show ended its highly popular run back in 1998, and you are a fan of David’s persona, further portrayed by himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you are in for a treat.
If you are a theater fan looking for something with a little more plot, character development and a cast of characters small enough for regional theaters to have a shot at producing this play, you might want more from Fish in the Dark ( the cast includes 18 actors who seem never to stop coming out form the wings). But then this show isn’t about producing a play that is going to win a Pulitzer. It is about bringing a popular writer to a new medium and making lots of money. In this, the show’s bigwig producers have succeeded, as tickets (selling as high as $155 a seat) have been flying out of the box office for the limited run, which plays through June 7.
Joining David on stage are some big star names: Rita Wilson (the film actress/producer and wife of Tom Hanks who made her Broadway debut in 2006 in Chicago); Rosie Perez, the always-delightful Jayne Houdyshell, stage veterans Ben Shenkman and Jerry Adler and more. Many, many, many more. The plot revolves around a family coming together around the funeral of its patriarch, Sidney Drexel (Adler).
Norman (David) and his brother, Arthur (Shenkman) fight over who their father has asked to care for their mother, Gloria (Houdyshell). There is no love lost between Gloria and Norman’s wife, Brenda (Wilson), so home sweet home is anything but when the mother-in-law moves in and the wife moves out.
Meanwhile, Norman’s maid, Fabiana (Perez) enters into a plot with Norman to convince Brenda that Fabiana’s son, Diego (Jake Cannavale) is a younger version of Sydney come to visit and requesting his widow provide funds to take care of Fabiana.
There’s more involving Arthur’s bombshell of a girlfriend, Michelle (Jenn Lyon) whom he brings on a date to the hospital where she gets groped by his dying father, projected death certificates ( Set Design by Todd Rosenthal), family promises, lots of arguing and a 1960’s feel enhanced by Ann Roth’s costumes and David Yazbek’s original music.
Sound is a problem (design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen) with some of the dialogue very difficult to hear (maybe film stars David and Wilson are used to foley masters enhancing their miked dialogue and don’t realize they need to project more on stage. Director Anna D. Shapiro should have clued them in). But again, with box office records being set, David offers an entertaining, pretty, pretty, pretty nice Broadway debut. (and if you don’t get that three-part “pretty” reference, you might want to spend your $155 on a deeper show).
Fish in the Dark plays through June 7 at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; , Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets $$49 - $155: (800) 432-7250; http://fishinthedark.com.
Note-- Ladies, don't count on being able to use this small bathroom.
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