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"Promises Promises", The Musical Comedy, at the Broadway Theatre
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"Promises Promises", The Musical Comedy, at the Broadway Theatre

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Promises Promises
The Musical Comedy
(Promises Promises Website)

Starring:
Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth

Book by Neil Simon
Music by Burt Bacharach
Lyrics by Hal David
(Based on the MGM, Wilder-Diamond Screenplay, “The Apartment”)

With:
Tony Goldwyn, Katie Finneran, Dick Latessa
Brooks Ashkmanskas, Peter Benson, Sean Martin Hingston, Ken Land
And
An Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Directed and Choreographed by Rob Ashford

At the
Broadway Theatre
Broadway at 53rd Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Bruce Pask
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Sound Design: Brian Ronan
Hair and Wig Design: Tom Watson
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Dance Arrangements: David Chase
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting
Press: The Hartman Group
Marketing: Type A Marketing/Anne Rippey
Production Stage Manager: Michael J. Passaro
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
General Management: Alan Wasser,
Alan Williams, Mark Shacket
Executive Producer: Beth Williams
Music Director: Phil Reno
Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 29, 2010


I loved Billy Wilder’s 1960 film, The Apartment, on which Neil Simon’s book is based, and it’s a film I revisit, thanks to TCM. If only the producers of the new Promises Promises had found actors with half the chemistry of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Even Fred MacMurray, who played the company boss in the film, had more charisma than the leads in tonight’s cast. Sean Hayes, as Chuck Baxter, the put-upon office worker with an Upper West Side apartment to lend, and Kristin Chenoweth, as Fran Kubelik, the boss’ mistress and object of Chuck’s desire, are no Lemmon and MacLaine. But, this is Broadway, and I remember, as a child, regularly traveling to New York with my family and having tickets for the biggest musicals in town. Promises Promises, the Neil Simon-Burt Bacharach-Hal David extravaganza, may not be a hit with the locals, but it will surely draw in the tourists, with over-sized, retro 1960-ish sets and costumes, a TV sitcom plot, and flashy Christmas ornamentations. And, for days, they’ll be humming “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”.

Promises Promises presents about twenty songs, in two Acts, most of which are immediately forgetful, but, like a 60’s ice cream soda, are delicious in the experience. When the cast, as Miss Polansky, Miss Wong, Miss Della Hoya, and the Employees of Consolidated Life, sing ‘Turkey Lurkey Time”, followed by Sheldrake (Tony Goldwyn), Mrs. Sheldrake, and Party Guests singing “Christmas Day”, the audience roared. The theme of the boss seeing a “girl” in the office, who has qualities that appeal to a guy on a “lower floor”, and that guy has an apartment that his superiors, who have connections, need for a few hours a week with their own “girls” from the office, is ripe for farce. Feydeau comes to mind, with doors and closets that open and close, as Chuck’s apartment has revolving couples with his very busy key. When Chuck finally needs his own apartment, in the unsurprising, seamless plot, more vaudevillian antics abound.

Two characters that infused this show with sparkling wit and effusive personality are Katie Finneran, as Marge MacDougall, the “gal in the bar”, with an owl feathered boa, who was appropriately a hoot. When Marge, Chuck, and the Bar Patrons commiserate communally with more than a few whiskies, singing “A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing”, the house came down in wild cheers. Ms. Finneran is certainly an artist to watch, with perfect timing and unabashed abandon. The other character that illuminated the show with burlesque bravado was Ashley Amber as Mrs. Sheldrake, who impersonated the scorned woman with outsized presence. Tony Goldwyn, as her philandering, corporate-culture spouse, added some very humorous office scenes, and his solo, “Wanting Things”, provided some poignancy, leading into the energized Thanksgiving number. Dick Latessa, as Dr. Dreyfuss, Chuck’s next door neighbor, who thinks Chuck has super-human hormones, with all the bedroom activity heard through the wall, has his own moment of glory toward the end of the show; his duo with Chuck, “A Young Pretty Girl Like You”, drew the audience in.

But, Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth, with their good, not gorgeous, vocal talent, and their glossy, saccharine repartee, left me wanting Lemmon and MacLaine. I’ll catch them again on TCM. Scott Pask and Bruce Pask’s sets and costumes worked well for this retro Broadway attraction, and Donald Holder and Brian Ronan’s lighting and sound carried the show into the rear of the theatre. Rob Ashford, Director and Choreographer, made the most of his cast, script, space, and songs. Neil Simon needed a revival hit, after his Brighton Beach Memoirs-Biloxi Blues shutdown, and he deserves as much success as the multitude of tourists will bring to the Broadway Theatre.












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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net