John Tartaglia...the photo credit is....maybe I didn't make that clear.....more importantly
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This enjoyable diversion and show-off vehicle for a talented actor is currently a popular choice for our nation's many regional theaters. Artistic Director David Saint has cast appealing, multi-talented Tony-nominated John Tartaglia (He originated the roles of Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q) as the out-of work actor who finds a temporary job as a shopkeeper, and even as a drama coach, in Barbra Streisand's underground mall.
Tartagalia's disarming performance is commendable on many levels, but most notable for the way he handles Tolin's battery of chit-chat. His precise, motor-mouthed delivery will certainly keep many in stitches hearing about La Streisand in Streisandland as a compulsive custodian of her own famous and presumably fabulous collections. The innumerable tchotchkes. are all peripheral players, as are a couple of the household's staff.
Besides her talents as a singer, actress, director, Streisand is an author/photographer. With her 2010 coffee table extravaganza My Passion Design, she unwittingly afforded playwright Tolins a golden opportunity to poke fun at her well-known idiosyncrasies.
The plot, or rather situation, is often as poignant as it is also paradoxically irrepressibly precious. Tartaglia has a tour de force with which to contend since he not only plays Alex but also his ultra gay, if relentlessly guileless, boyfriend Barry. But he is also right on target as the graciously condescending mistress of the manor who suggests early on that he call her "Sadie." The playwright has, however, been careful not to make a mockery of any portion of Streisand's life.
Thanks to Saint's crisply attentive direction, we are quickly involved in the development of a highly unlikely relationship. The original brilliantly minimalist set design by Andrew Boyce and original projections by Alex Koch look even better than in NYC on the wider expanse of the GSP Playhouse's stage. And the new lighting design by Christopher Bailey adds more visual magic to the production.
Oh, and the handsome and very macho James Brolin (you must know who he is....and another choice characterization for Tartaglia) ventures below for a frozen yogurt with sprinkles. That's cool and so is the play.
To read Curtainup's review of the original Off-Broadway production go here
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
Slings & Arrows-the complete set
You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company