Monday, October 15, 2007

The Ritz (The SOB Review)

The Ritz (The SOB Review) - Studio 54, New York, NY

* (out of ****)

I hate it when I waste good money. I hate it even more when I see good talent wasted.

Both occurred when I checked out the latest, limp revival of Terrence McNally's The Ritz.

I can honestly say that this is the least satisfying show I've seen all year. The only thing truly shocking about this revival was how dull and lifeless it was. It ranks as one of director Joe Mantello's most disappointing efforts yet, and makes his lackluster revival of The Odd Couple seem like an all-out triumph.

For starters, with dated cultural touchstone references ranging from Margaret Dumont to the Andrews Sisters, the material feels as creaky as an unlubricated floor. As a farce, it's ridiculously predictable and flaccid. And despite all those hard bodies, it's anything but titillating, especially since this den of iniquity is showcased (via Scott Pask's set design) with all the sterility of a doctor's office.

To be frank, I was bored silly even with the literally ball-busting turns by Rosie Perez as Googie Gomez and Kevin Chamberlin as Gaetano Proclo. A caricature of herself, Googie aspires to the type of Bette Midleresque fame that could only originate in the bowels of the 70s gay baths. She's so bad that she's a wonder.

Googie meets up with fish-out-of-water Gaetano, thinking he's the producer who's going to provide her big show biz break, while in reality, he's hiding out in The Ritz, ironically enough, to avoid getting whacked. The joke is that this is the last place on earth his brother-in-law would look. If only.

The only real highlight of this play is near the end of the first act when whacked-out Googie takes to the stage of The Ritz and sings an insipid if it weren't so inspired medley of tunes slapped together from the deviously clever mind of Seth Rudetsky. For one brief enjoyable moment, The Ritz thrills before reverting back to the facile facscimile it is.

I can only wonder how truly awful the first revival of The Ritz had to be in order to close after just one night. I'm glad I don't have to find out.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Critics Check-In To The Ritz (October 12, 2007)
Vulture Scoops Up Kevin Chamberlin (October 11, 2007)
Tonight: Puttin' On The Ritz (October 11, 2007)
Before The Holidays Strike? (September 25, 2007)
The Ritz: Studio 54 To Transform Into Baths (May 31, 2007)

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