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What’s bafflingly wrong with the production has primarily to do with the visuals, a major fail: David Rockwell’s set is unusually (and atypically) ugly, its slits and slots of cityscape suggestive, to my eye, of a computer punchcard and about as engaging.I would add that the same goes for the show’s identifying art as well, which is in the style of a ’60s sex comedy and can’t hold a candle to the trenchant Keith Haring image used in the original.

And it remains a risk in these more tolerant times, when so much has changed and yet… Not because this revival isn’t terrific — it is, mostly. I have discovered that I guess people really believe me as a jerk. I think that’s where real relaxation comes from: true preparation. I pack myself into very tight pants and then get to let my hips do all the talking. ” is getting to go to work and work with all of these hilarious people and listen to the audience laugh hysterically for two and a half hours. What have you learned about yourself while playing Shakespeare? Black Stache in “Peter and the Starcatcher” had perhaps a similar level of narcissism, but I think it was clearer that that character was desperate for love and attention, whereas I think there is a big part of William Shakespeare that truly believes his own press. Well, everyone, gay or straight, has a little bit of an acting crush on Brian d’Arcy James. I learned that after a couple of appallingly bad auditions for very important people where I had just not done the work. I had not memorized the sides and was hoping to coast on whatever spontaneity happened in the room. And at the end of the audition he was kind enough to put his hand on my shoulder and say, “You’re a fine actor.” That really translated to me as, “That just wasn’t good enough.” He was so incredibly gracious and so lovely, and it was the moment that changed my life on some level. I get good rest, go in, and surrender to whatever that room feels like.The ballads, however, especially “Unlikely Lovers,” are catch-in-your-throat soaring.The central plot points of Act II (the two parts were originally three, written over a decades’ span and ultimately elided into the single show) are Jason’s impending bar mitzvah, and Marvin’s reconciliation with Whizzer. Charlotte (Tracie Thoms) and Cordelia (Betsy Wolfe), a kosher caterer devoted to creating the perfect nouvelle bar mitzvah cuisine.Mendes remains on board as a producer through his Neal Street Productions banner, which teams with Warner Bros.

Theatre Ventures and Langley Park Productions on the show.

The show begins with “Four Jews In A Room Bitching,” an opener almost as famous and raucously funny as “Comedy Tonight,” from Comparisons to Stephen Sondheim are inevitable, as Finn the composer is a protégé breaking the mold: his tonal palette can be as challenging as Sondheim’s but he’s more conservative, frequently concluding an impressionistic melody with easy-on-the ears Broadway melody-making (of a very winning sort, to be sure).

A long time ago, Finn’s lyrics struck me as serviceable but on the predictable side and, especially in the comic songs, funny without being especially witty.

But then Act II happens and the show, for all its dark turns, suddenly seems light as air.

That may be an odd way to feel about a musical in which love and death are so intertwined.

I have the enviable task of showing up 45 minutes into the show after sweet Brian d’Arcy James has already done a whole show’s worth. What do you wish you’d known before you started acting? The discipline of the job is to be the most prepared person in the room. I wouldn’t call it a horror story, but I went in to audition for the illustrious and wonderful Stanley Tucci, who was directing the “Lend Me a Tenor” revival. Then just drill it every day for an hour in the morning, pacing back and forth in my kitchen, so by the time the actual day gets there, I feel like I know it like the back of my hand.