The Shubert Organization, Carl Moellenberg
An Act of God
(An Act of God Website)
By David Javerbaum
Christopher Fitzgerald, Tim Kazurinsky
Directed by Joe Mantello
254 West 54th Street
Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: David Zinn
Lighting Design: Hugh Vanstone
Sound Design: Fitz Patton
Music: Adam Schlesinger
Projection Design: Peter Nigrini
Illusion Consultant: Paul Kieve
Special Effects: Gregory Meeh
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
Technical Supervisor: Steve Beers
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
Production Stage Manager: Arthur Gaffin
Company Manager: Roseanna Sharrow
Exec. Producer: 101 Productions, Ltd.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 3, 2015
In June of 2012, in a lead sentence of my review of Jim Parsons in Harvey, at Studio 54, I wrote, ďI was so surprised to enjoy this production so thoroughly that I did not want it to end.Ē Exactly three years later, in the same theater, I felt exactly the same way. A non-musical play with God in the title, with just three male actors, could have elicited yawns. But, lo and behold, Mr. Parsons was just as entertaining, wearing a long white robe and holding a silver chalice, in An Act of God, as was Bette Midler, as a Hollywood goddess, in her long blue robe and glass of gin, in the 2013, Iíll Eat You Last. Notably, both plays were directed by Joe Mantello. Mr. Parsons is joined by Christopher Fitzgerald and Tim Kazurinsky, as his two archangels, Michael and Gabriel, in white robes and expansive feathery wings. Scott Paskís set is critical to the dynamic of this show. Heís created a stairway to heaven, enhanced with projections, illusions, and special effects, creating billowing storms and blissful sunsets, constantly in motion. David Javerbaumís play, wittily and warmly directed by Mr. Mantello, has so many au courant one-liners, that I may revisit, just to hear them again. Even Obama and Kanye are evoked, along with Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, Abraham and Isaac.
In a thin plot, God brings us a revised version of the Ten Commandments. One by one, they light up at the high landing between Godís perch and Heavenís gate. Once in a while, heaven morphs into hell, with red fire and thundering brimstone effects. Mr. Parsonís God is imagined with a languid Texan accent, an expansive knowledge of American culture, a fearless take on prayers and psalms, and a passion for multi-racial harmony and multi-gender identity. Once in a while, Michael, the archangel, moves within the audience and asks God questions that are fabricated or pre-prepared. We donít actually hear the audience voices, but weíre told first names and home states. I found this element touristy and extraneous, but those in the front row enjoyed the spotlight. Iím sure Mr. Javerbaum could have stretched and imagined a few sporty queries from the angels to draw equally raucous laughs. But, the essence of the play, a quasi, God-given monologue, with Gabriel at a podium, marking off the commandments, and Michael cozying up to the audience, was seamless and sensational. When God gets mad, he gets even, in act and threat, and, at one point, Michael loses a wing. By time this occurs, the audience sighs with empathy, as itís so drawn in.
Mr. Paskís set is a one-of-a-kind, media extravaganza, worthy of a major museum atrium. Helped by Hugh Vanstone in lighting, Fitz Patton in sound, Adam Schlesinger in music, Peter Nigrini in projections, Paul Kieve in illusions, and Gregory Meeh in special effects, Mr. Paskís scenic design becomes a show in itself. David Zinnís white costumes, in robe and movable-wing design, work perfectly for this artistic aesthetic. It should be noted that Mr. Pask added a solid white couch (once again evocative of his own scenic design of the Midler play, with her solid beige couch for her tÍtes-a-tÍtes.) Kudos to Jim Parsons, and kudos to Joe Mantello and Scott Pask.