Friday, April 30, 2010

Promises, Promises (The SOB Review)

Promises, Promises (The SOB Review) - Broadway Theatre, New York, New York

** (out of ****)

On paper, Rob Ashford's new revival of Promises, Promises -- the only Broadway tuner ever written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David -- was not only promising, but it seemed poised to be a sure-fire hit.

Pair one of the Great White Way's most beloved contemporary musical/comedy stars (Kristin Chenoweth) with one of the last decade's most memorable television actors (Sean Hayes), throw in a couple more of Bacharach and David's most popular hits, move the action of Neil Simon's book up a half decade to capitalize on "Mad Men," and voila! A smash, right?!

Unfortunately, the only smash comes in the form of the massive collision of sensibilities between this revival's two wildly, divergent acts (not to mention how contextually misplaced those added songs are). The first is so horrendously conceived and downright boring, that you may be tempted to leave at intermission. The only saving grace is Hayes' occasionally winning take on C.C. Baxter, the office climber who's hoping to impress office cafeteria waitress Fran Kubelik (Chenoweth, whom I regret to say is miscast). But even Hayes' C.C. too frequently comes off as just this side of Jack.

The shocker is that the second act is so significantly better than the first that you're actually relieved you stuck this one out. That's largely because of the yeoman efforts of the superb Katie Finneran. She not only saves the day with her deliriously funny portrayal of the tipsy Marge MacDougall, but she also salvages the show.

You can't help but contemplate the promise of what might have been had Ashford maintained the same tone throughout. Instead, I'm sorry to say, we're merely stuck with broken Promises, Promises.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 24 August, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm tired of so many critics saying the Kristin (Chenoweth) was miscast in this. People, you have to realize that she's more than just Sally Brown, & Glinda characters!!!!! She's a real person & as such has many complex layers. If you looked at her in this role and removed all your expectations from previous roles, you'd see she actually nailed it!!! No, it's not a laugh riot role, it's a role of heart break & desperation. EVERY woman can relate to this role & has been close to that point at some point in our lives! Stand back & look at Kristin for the WOMAN that she is & you might see just how well she plays this part after all! Sorry for the rant, that is all.

At 24 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for your comments.

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Chenoweth's and admire her range. While I completely agree with you that this is not a laugh riot role (I wasn't among those looking for laughs from this fine actress), Fran is intended to be played by someone much, much younger (Jill O'Hara was 21 when she created the role in the original 1968 version and Shirley Maclaine was just 26 in the 1960 film "The Apartment" - Ms. Chenoweth is 42.).


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