In these distressing, usually depressing events, it takes precise effort for any leisure to take care of a smile plastered in your face for the upper part of two-and-a-half hours. So, all hail the “The Promenade,” now participating in on Broadway on the Longacre Theatre, silly and slight, however as well as heartfelt and sweet – a gift so continually endearing that you just want to give it a hug and invite it to Thanksgiving dinner.
“The Promenade”‘s co-writer Bob Martin, and choreographer/director Casey Nicholaw beforehand collaborated on “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a gift that was every an homage to outdated fashion musicals like “One thing Goes” and an ironic commentary on them. “The Promenade” exists in an similar meta home — on this case, it’s as if Sondheim’s “Follies” had a one-night stand with “Costly Evan Hansen” and produced a child that seems a bit like “Indicate Ladies.”
The story revolves spherical four self-absorbed, barely past-their-prime Broadway performers, who — in a reasonably odd effort to revitalize their careers — decide to take up the rationale for a teenage lesbian named Emma (the gorgeous Caitlin Kinnunen) who has been banned from attending her Indiana highschool’s promenade. The hows and whys of all this don’t make an unimaginable amount of sense, nonetheless moreover they don’t quite a bit matter for a gift whose precise purpose is to slyly satirize the high-mindedness that exists on both aspect of most cultural divides.
The actors, along with two-time Tony Award-winner Dee Dee Allen (precise life Tony-winner Beth Leavel), “one-time Drama Desk winner” Barry Glickman (Brooks Ashmanskas), Juilliard grad-turned-catering waiter Trent Oliver (Christopher Sieber) and career chorus woman Angie (Angie Schworer) are blue state bulls in a pink state china retailer — aghast that others don’t see points their means (or don’t acknowledge them as a result of the Broadway stars they’re).
For her quite a bit quieter half. Emma is just not trying to find publicity, merely the prospect to pronounce to her neighborhood her love for her closeted girlfriend (Isabelle McCalla). Attempting to mediate all of that’s the varsity’s deeply first charge principal Mr. Hawkins (Michael Potts), who in order that happens to be a Broadway fanboy with an unlimited crush on Dee Dee.
To their good credit score rating, Martin and his co-writer Chad Begeulin deal with to supply each of the current’s characters their due, charting a plausible and touching emotional journey for all of them. Each of the precept players moreover will get his or her private solo, courtesy of a likable, typically terrific score by Matthew Sklar (music) and Begeulin (lyrics) by means of which the songs actually really feel like actual expressions of the characters’ dilemmas and frustrations. (Sklar and Begeulin beforehand collaborated on “Elf” and “The Wedding ceremony ceremony Singer.” Along with Martin and Nicholaw, moreover they collaborated on the still-in-development “Half Time,” which was mounted earlier this yr on the Paper Mill Playhouse.)
The current’s two best amount every belong to Leavel — an anthem to showbiz narcissism known as “It’s Not About Me” and a “Drowsy Chaperone”-style show-tune-within-a-show-tune known as “The Lady’s Bettering” — and she or he brings the house down every events. Nonetheless nearly everyone throughout the huge stable leaves an impression, notably Ashmanskas, whose swishy, bitchy technique poignantly masks his character’s lifetime of rejection and loneliness.
However MVP credit score rating proper right here goes to Nicholaw, who not solely strikes the current alongside at an exuberant clip and retains the tone balanced between sincerity and self-referentiality, however as well as serves up a number of of the largely deceptively refined, purely entertaining choreography of any newest Broadway musical. Throughout the current’s dance sequences, the performers — youthful and older alike — switch with an uncontainable, unrelenting sense of delight and vitality. Their good vibes come cascading by way of the viewers, serving to to make “The Promenade” arguably the happiest current spherical.
Moreover opening this week on Broadway
The New One
The performer Mike Birbiglia, best acknowledged his one-man current, information and later movie “Sleepwalk with Me,” comes out of the Spalding Gray / John Leguizamo school of monologue writing; he constructs elaborate dissections of his private personal neuroses, with an suave mixture of humor and pathos. His latest endeavor, “The New One,” originated off-Broadway last yr and has now moved to Broadway for a restricted run — no indicate feat on this age of star-driven performs and franchise-based musicals.
It’s a sweet and charming piece, explicating Birbiglia’s very mixed feelings about becoming a father. If it seems a bit decrease than the sum of its (admittedly very humorous) jokes, it perhaps has one factor to do with harmful timing. The current arrives as a result of the #MeToo movement continues to make waves, and just a few months after Hannah Gatsby’s massively influential Netflix explicit “Nanette” demanded that each one of us rethink the character of male-driven standup comedy. It seems a tad off-key for a Birbiglia to be serving up a monologue by means of which a heterosexual white man’s anxieties (and his overly acquainted observations regarding the variations between the sexes) are positioned front-and-center. “The New One” in the long run does probably not really feel new adequate.