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"A Catered Affair" at the Walter Kerr Theatre
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"A Catered Affair" at the Walter Kerr Theatre

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A Catered Affair
(Show Website)

Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music and Lyrics by John Bucchino

At
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street
NY, NY 10036

Starring:
Faith Prince, Tom Wopat, Harvey Fierstein
With: Leslie Kritzer, Philip Hoffman,
Katie Klaus, Heather Mac Rae, Lori Wilner,
Kristine Zbornik, Jennifer Allen, Britta Ollmann,
Matthew Scott, Mark Zimmerman

Directed by John Doyle
Scenic Design: David Gallo
Costume Design: Ann Hould-Ward
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
Projection Design: Zachary Borovay
Hair Design: David Lawrence
Casting: Telsey + Company
Assoc. Director: Adam John Hunter
Music Director & Arrangements: Constantine Kitsopoulos
Orchestration by Jonathan Tunick
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Assoc. Producers: Stacey Mindich and Rhoda Mayerson
Press Representative: O & M Co.
Marketing: Type A Marketing
Production Management: Juniper Street Productions
General Management: Alan Wasser-Allan Williams

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 23, 2008, Matinee


Harvey Fierstein has written a deep musical adaptation of the 1956 film, “The Catered Affair”, which itself was based on a TV drama by Paddy Chayefsky. This new Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by John Bucchino, is soulful, thoughtful, and a wonderful escape from the rock-infused, over-miced, shallow and showy musicals that seem cut from cookie-cutters in recent years. A Catered Affair is a family affair, one with extensive pathos, blunt neediness, and some very memorable scenes. Speaking of scenery, Zachary Borovay’s large Bronx tenement set-projections, with housewives gossiping through the windows, slide in seamlessly throughout the intermission-less 90 minute production. David Gallo’s interior scenery is spotless-shabby, enhancing the bareness of these transparent souls.

Faith Prince, as Aggie, mother of the bride-to-be, and Tom Wopat, as Tom, father of the bride-to-be, have a very 1953 American, Memorial Day marriage, and Memorial Day figures prominently, as they receive a government check as “compensation” for the loss of an offstage son in the Korean War. The handing of the folded flag and check is met with palpable silence by Aggie and Tom, but the plan for that check is met with dynamic conflict and watershed family communication. Janey and fiancé Ralph (Leslie Kritzer and Matt Cavenaugh) want a bare-bones ceremony, private and swift. Aggie wants a magnificent catered affair, with a lace and satin gown and lovely flowers and cake. Tom wants what Janey wants, so he can buy that medallion cab he’s dreamed of. Uncle Winston (Harvey Fierstein as the gay bachelor uncle who lives with his sister, Aggie and the family) wants what Aggie wants, and he wants to help finance the affair.

Ralph’s parents are happy with the larger plans, but the meet-the-prospective-in-laws dinner is interrupted by the rejected Uncle Winston, after he learns there’s no invitation beyond immediate family. The story proceeds, and, in the end, family ties are strengthened through tough introspection, like Tom’s signature song, “I Stayed”, and Aggie’s “Married”. Winston’s “Coney Island”, as well, reveals poignancy and reflection, as the characters emotionally mature and bond in scene after scene. This is not a hum-as-you-leave Broadway musical, but musical phrases and imagery will linger. Harvey Fierstein, as Winston, is, as always, robust, with daunting presence and surprising musicality, the kind that endears and engages. Faith Prince, as Aggie, gives a richly textured performance, as a figure that mesmerizes in its stoicism. Tom Wopat, as Tom, was equally compelling in conflicted love and a need to succeed. Leslie Kritzer and Matt Cavenaugh were both convincing as the romantically, but torn, couple, yet not dynamically presented in their central roles.

Lori Wilner doubled as the mother of the groom and one of the ladies in the window, while Philip Hoffman doubled as Tom’s taxi driver friend, who would share the dream medallion, and the father of the groom. Heather Mac Rae doubled as the wedding caterer and another Bronx housewife, while Kristine Zbornik doubled as a Bronx lady and the wedding dress saleswoman, and both actors were convincing in their multiple roles. Katie Klaus was the final Bronx lady and Army Sergeant, who delivered the flag. The mood onstage was infused with hope (“Our Only Daughter”), self-expression (“Coney Island”), and love (“Don’t Ever Stop Saying ‘I Love You’”). One suggestion, Dan Moses Schreier’s sound design could be clearer and a bit louder. Brian MacDevitt’s lighting was significant in the shifts from interior daylight to exterior moonlight. Kudos to Harvey Fierstein.



Tom Wopat, Faith Prince, Harvey Fierstein
in "A Catered Affair"
Courtesy of Jim Cox




Matt Cavenaugh, Leslie Kritzer,
Lori Wilner, Harvey Fierstein,
Philip Hoffman, Tom Wopat, Faith Prince
in "A Catered Affair"
Courtesy of Jim Cox




Leslie Kritzer and Faith Prince
in "A Catered Affair"
Courtesy of Jim Cox




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