Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, Where are Audrey and Truman When You Need Them?

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It’s a good thing that Audrey Hepburn and Truman Capote have gone on to their greater glory so they wouldn’t have to bear witness to the goings on at the Cort Theatre.  On the other hand, maybe someone should’ve performed a séance before curtain call, so that their presence could guide the cast.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s was one of the productions I was most looking forward to this season.  Sadly, I must report that the core of this production, which on the surface seems to be about beautiful people sipping martinis and champagne, is a flat as an eight-day-old open bottle of Pink Champale.  It was unconvincing, inauthentic and could evoke more zzzz’s than a bottle of Ambien. 

The 1958 Truman Capote novella of the same name and its protagonist Holly Golightly are iconic symbols of American literature and culture.  Audrey Hepburn became synonymous with the character after portraying her in 1961 film.  Unfortunately, this production didn’t bring with it the spirit of Holly Golightly or the colorful characters of Capote’s book or Blake Edwards’ movie. 

4.185113Sometimes it is difficult to step into shoes that are as recognizable as Dorothy’s ruby slippers.  Nevertheless, it can be done.  Patti LuPone’s Evita was legendary, but Madonna (who isn’t necessarily known for her acting chops) gave the role new life when she played the larger than life wife of Juan Peron for the silver screen.  Outside of George Wendt, most of the cast’s feet were just too small to fill and walk in shoes of these characters.  It is rare that I can’t find one redeeming quality about a production, but as hard as I wrack my brain, I can’t find one.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s was more like breakfast at Denny’s there was no moon river, no dose of fabulosity.  Holly Golightly said it best when she explained to her husband Doc, “You musn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.”  In essence, that is the problem with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Richard Greenberg and Sean Mathias gave their hearts to a wild thing that had flown the coup way before it hit the stage.

Photos: Broadway.com

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Buddy the Elf Comes To Broadway

 

Buffalo two step over Rockettes, this year Buddy the elf descends on Manhattan to spread some hilarious holiday cheer to the world’s most impatient, rude and skeptical citizens.  This Christmas, Broadway gets into the ho-ho-ho spirit of the holidays in a major way with Elf, a new musical based on the 2003 comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, James Caan and the hysterical Will Ferrell. 

Much like the movie Elf tells the story of Buddy, a human who grows up in Christmastown amongst Santa and his elves and believes he too is an elf.  Upon discovering that he is actually human, he also learns his father is Walter Hobbs – a man that does not believe in Santa, is on Santa’s naughty list and lives in New York City.  Determined to build a connection with his father and prove that he is the world’s greatest son, Buddy sets out for the Big Apple to find Walter and spread the spirit of Christmas to New Yorkers – a necessary commodity considering Santa’s sleigh is powered by the people’s belief in Christmas. 

 

Upon arriving in New York City Buddy finds that his father has a new family, a demanding job publishing children’s books and has no time for them or him.  Eventually, Buddy does develop a relationship with his family, and along the way he delivers Christmas cheer to Macy’s, falls in love with a girl, gives his dad a great idea for new Christmas tale and helps raise Santa sleigh after he crashes in Central Park by convincing New Yorkers to believe in Santa and the true meaning of Christmas.

Elf is not just a regurgitated story with song and dance routines crammed haphazardly throughout the show, instead it is a cultivated production enhanced by super cute music and lyrics.  Songs like “Christmastown”, “A Christmas Song”, “Never Fall in Love” and “The Story of Buddy the Elf” are catchy tunes that will add to your roster of favorite X-Mas jingles.  The simple choreography works well with the upbeat music.  Elf is not overly complicated theatre.  It is a feel good family musical about the most wonderful time of the year.  And the cast help to make this make this musical an above average film to theatre adaptation.

 

Sebastian Arcelus is a delight as the naïve, sugary sweet Buddy.  His childlike demeanor is endearing and hilarious.   Amy Spanger is entertaining as Jovie, Buddy’s love interest.  Mark Jacoby as amusing as Walter Hobbs, the hard-ass that discovers he has a new son and a heart.  Beth Leavel and Matthew Gumley are equally enjoyable as Emily and Michael Hobbs.  Their duets are two of the best numbers in the show.  George Wendt as Santa can bring a smile to anyone’s face.  The sets are interactive and animated and are reminiscent of a children’s 3D pop up book.

 

 

The true charm of this production is that it is giddy, warm-hearted and leaves you with cozy, nostalgic feelings about Christmas – a necessary commodity since Christmas today seems more about ensuring retailers make their bottom line than spending time with loved ones, showing kindness to your neighbor and the birth of Jesus.  Elf is playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre until January 2 and will bring out the kid in everyone.  I recommend it for anyone that needs a good ole dose of Christmas spirit.  You will have Sparklejollytwinklejingley time!

Photos: Joan Marcus