The Nance opened April 15 at the Lyceum Theatre. Starring Nathan Lane, Jonny Orsini, Lewis J. Stadlen, Cady Huffman, Jenni Barber and Andrea Burns, The Nance vividly paints the portrait of the world of burlesque at its zenith as well as the beginning of its demise. After viewing this production, I can happily report that I wasn’t disappointed. The Nance is witty, thought-provoking and one of the most complete shows I’ve seen this spring. If you desire a night at the theatre that offers a little sex, lots of laughter and a provocative narrative, then I suggest you get down to the Lyceum Theatre and say, “Hi, simply hi,” to the ticket agent and get yourself a ticket to The Nance. And just in case my word isn’t good enough, below are F.A.M.E NYC’s top five reasons to go see The Nance.
Nathan Lane – Nathan Lane is a no stranger to the neon lights of Broadway. In fact, with productions like Guys and Dolls, The Producers, The Odd Couple and The Addams Family under his belt, Lane is a veteran and a box office draw. In The Nance, he plays Chauncey Miles, a seasoned burlesque performer known for his flamboyant routine. Chauncey’s high-pitched, double entendres and musical performances are a regular riot until the city decides to crackdown on the lowbrow environment the burlesque world entertains. Chauncey, a republican, believes it is just political grandstanding until he reluctantly becomes the poster boy for free speech and subsequently for gay rights. Lane steps into the role of Chauncey as if he is placing his feet into the most comfortable pair of slippers. It is made for him and highlights all the attributes that fans have come to love about watching Nathan Lane on stage or on film. A true comedian, his timing is impeccable and his delivery of the material truly deserves the standing ovation given by the audience at the end of the show. What Audrey Hepburn did for the character of Holly Golightly, I believe Lane has done for the character of Chauncey Miles. He has given the role unmistakable life that will not easily be duplicated.
Douglas Carter Beane – With all the flowers, and some weeds, that sprouted on Broadway this spring, playwright Douglas Carter Beane has created a rare rose. Beane not only offered audiences a peek into the world of burlesque, he also featured a glimpse of the New York City and the world pre-Stonewall and created a direct line to the issues the LGBT community still face in the 21st century with style and humor. There is no part of this story that lags; it is a Babe Ruth home run out of the park.
John Lee Beatty – When a production is running on all cylinders, the set design is a crucial element to its viability. John Lee Beatty’s set design is as vital to The Nance as New York City is to Law and Order. It is without a doubt the silent character. His swiveling sets allow the actors to change scenes without switching gears and make the transition between The Irving Place Theatre and Chauncey’s apartment flawless. The sets permit the audience to ride side-by-side with the cast on a journey back into time courtesy of Douglas Carter Beane’s wonderful script.
Jonny Orsini – What a cutie pie! He steams up the stage of the Lyceum Theatre with his nude scene and smile that can be seen in the last row of the balcony. Orsini plays Ned, Chauncey’s younger, naive love interest. Chauncey believes picking Ned up would only result in a one night love affair, but Ned’s tenderness uncovers another layer to Chauncey’s cynical New York veneer. Orsini and Lane create authentic chemistry.
The members of Irving Place Theatre - Chauncey’s act at the Irving Place Theatre aren’t a one man show. Members Efram, Sylvie, Joan and Carmen help to generate the laughs and raw emotion that make The Nance a smash. The quirky show business family they produce made me want to hop out of my seat and join the circus.
Individually, the parts of this production are great, but together The Nance explodes with emotive fervor. It’s an instant classic! I suggest meeting the cast around the corner of W. 45th Street and checking out a fantastic show.
Photos: Joan Marcus