Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Harvey's Affair

Neil Cohen reports on the latest from the Great White Way as we continue our countdown to this Sunday's Tony Awards:

Even factoring in nostalgia for a simpler time, the plot of A Catered Affair (now playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre) doesn’t cry out for a musical version. Eager to impress others, Aggie, an otherwise loving mother (Faith Prince), wants to give her daughter a huge wedding, no matter what the financial and emotional cost. Harvey Fierstein wrote the book and a juicy role for himself as gay Uncle Winston, but his Torch Song Trilogy-worthy reaction to being excluded from the big day is totally anachronistic for a homosexual in the 50’s. Tom Wopat is honest and moving as Aggie’s beaten-down husband; Prince is touching in a rare serious role, making you care about her rather than judge her actions. The music and lyrics flow melodically and smoothly, but are utterly plain and unmemorable. Still, any reason to see Mr. Fierstein should not be missed.

Prince and Wopat are both Tony nominated for their performances in Affair, and Prince will perform a song ("Vision") on the Tonycast this Sunday. Usually, only the nominated musicals and revivals get a moment in the nationally televised spotlight, but in a break from tradition, this show and two others (The Little Mermaid and Young Frankenstein) will be featured. Sierra Boggess will perform Mermaid's signature tune, "Part of Your World", while Megan Mullally will sing "Deep Love", her paean to monstrous genitalia from Young Frankenstein.

And speaking of Young Frank, that mostly-Tony-snubbed tuner: Broadway scuttlebutt has it that the show is hurting for cash and, as a cost-cutting measure, is slashing all the lead actors' salaries in half. I guess those $450 seats aren't selling so well, are they Mel?

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