Friday, March 09, 2007

Postlude: Most Critics Seal With A Kiss

Postlude: Most Critics Seal With A Kiss

Although the pre-opening buzz could have been better, something magical must have occurred to the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Craig Lucas' seminal play Prelude To A Kiss prior to opening night. Most critics provided positive reviews.

Proclaiming Prelude To A Kiss a "small comic fantasy with a big heart," the Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara lavishes praise: "[T]he meticulous direction of Daniel Sullivan...mines not only the work's laughter but its tears....The actors could not be more appealing...In the end, what makes Prelude to a Kiss reverberate so strongly is its joyous embrace of life, from its very beginning to the end. Sermonizing has never seemed so sweet and unassuming."

Deeming the revival both "moody" and "touching," The New York Times' Charles Isherwood is fairly positive: "The new Roundabout Theater [sic] Company production, directed with his customary sensitivity by Daniel Sullivan, holds fast to the melancholy of Mr. Lucas’s vision....Mr. (Alan) Tudyk and Ms. (Annie) Parisse...both give distinctive, appealing performances that capture the shaky excitement of youth rushing headlong into the potentially treacherous waters of commitment....Mr. (John) an admirably unsentimental actor whose economy of means works well for him here. The scenes between Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Tudyk, in which the young lovers struggle to renew their intimacy in bizarrely altered circumstances, are wonderfully tender, sad and funny too."

Calling this a "fun play but also oddly, unexpectedly, moving" in his three-out-of-four-star review, New York Post's Clive Barnes says: "Daniel Sullivan's direction puts a closer emphasis on the mysterious old receiving a perfect performance of agonized befuddlement from the present great John Mahoney, far too long absent from the New York stage. He wanders aimfully through the play, subtly expressing a disconcerting inner self. Alan Tudyk as Peter, the puzzled young superb....He's beautifully matched by the imperturbable and proper duality of Annie Parisse as Rita, his fiancée unwittingly turned monster-wife, and the rest of the cast, led by James Rebhorn and Robin Bartlett, both unerring as Rita's parents, a wealthy dentist and his considerate wife."

Saying "[T]he years have proven kind to Prelude," Eric Grode of the New York Sun writes enthusiastically: "A deft touch is required if the fanciful and the profound are to coexist -- and that's just what director Daniel Sullivan provides in this bewitching revival. Even when the plot mechanics show their age, or when Mr. Lucas settles for an easy laugh, Mr. Sullivan and his extraordinarily nuanced cast conjure a modern-day fairy tale in which love and loss amplify each other with stinging melancholy."

Noting how the play feels "emotionally encumbered," Variety's David Rooney is mostly positive: "It takes a gossamer-light touch to achieve the play's magical balance and coax forth the sorrowful subtext beneath the eccentric fantasy. That touch is the domain here mainly of the wonderful John Mahoney, whose tender performance is the Roundabout production's chief reward....Lucas' exquisite writing spins out sentiments that could be treacle in other hands, in a scenario that might just as easily have dissolved into contrived whimsy. But there's an anchoring sincerity that makes you believe in the crazy fantasy....But it's Mahoney who really captures the haunting emotional transparency of Lucas' play and its lyrical sense of loss. "

One voice of dissent comes from Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News, who pans : "Unfortunately, the spell cast by the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Craig Lucas' dark fable is one of near-total inertness. Alan Tudyk and Annie Parisse...are talented and appealing and look better in bathing suits than 99% of the U.S. population. But neither is so bewitching that we fall for them as quickly and completely as they fall for each other. The director, Daniel Sullivan, hasn't been able to help them find their way....There are bright spots. Mahoney, after years of sitting in that ugly 'Frasier' chair, plays the wizened widower with a new lease on life. His wry grin is delightful."

All things considered, those are some pretty favorable reviews for this limited run production. Prelude To A Kiss runs through April 29 at the American Airlines Theatre.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Prelude: Previews To Opening Night (March 8, 2007)
Prelude To Prelude Previews (January 11, 2007)

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