★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
This razor-toothed parody of that most insular showbiz species, Broadway theater folk, is also an affectionate comic valentine to them. The current production, running at Las Vegas Little Theatre through March 19th, deserves a Satisfying 3 Stars!
It’s opening night of Peter Austin's new Broadway play The Golden Egg. With his career on the line, he is anxiously waiting to see if his show is a hit. He’s at the townhouse of his fledgling producer, sharing his big First Night with: her, his best friend (a television star), his erratic leading lady, his wunderkind British director, an infamous drama critic, and a wide-eyed coat check attendant on his first night in Manhattan. It’s only A Play is raucous, ridiculous and tender — reminding audiences why there’s no business like show business.
While the play is a frothy send-up of Broadway, packed with inside jokes, topical references and catty theater-world wisecracks, I must agree with the NY Daily News that, “...despite astute and acclaimed work in plays like “Master Class” and musicals including “Ragtime,” McNally’s writing here is uneven.”
As for this production, however, Gillen Brey does a yeoman's job directing – and keeping her talented cast from spinning right off the front apron into the laps of the audience. In the womens’ roles, Teresa Fullerton is endearing as Julia Budder – dilettante first-time producer with no taste, no talent, and little sense – not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. In an enthusiastic moment, she chirps, "Irving Berlin said it best: 'There's no business like the one we're in!’” Trina Colon fittingly presents the character of Virginia Noyes as an aging, coke-snorting ex-movie star, whose vanity fights for supremacy over her insecurity – as she wears an ankle monitor.
Among the men, Jacob Moore almost visibly sweats as Peter Austin, the greenhorn playwrightanxiously awaiting the critics’ judgment of his Broadway debut. Steve McMillan is calm as a cucumber in his portrayal of James Wicker, an egotistical but insecure actor who passed up a chance to star in the play for a television series. The young, egomaniacal, wunderkind British director, Frank Finger -- with mousse-spiked hair, and mod suit – is well played by Casper Collins, with a solid and consistent accent and foot-stomping hyperactivity. Kyle Jones is comfortable as the bitter, insecure, surprisingly giggly theater critic, Ira Drew. The clueless, bright-eyed innocent, Gus (hired to collect the guests’ coats) has overly-eager aspirations for a Broadway career himself, and Michael Blair’s flattery and obsequious behavior is suitably limitless.
The set, by Ron Lindblom, truly established the lavish, yet tasteless, Manhattan townhouse of the play’s inexperienced producer, Julia Budder. Ginny Adams’ garish lighting exposed every inch of this inelegant city residence. Shannon Nightingale’s costumes had the ensemble puttin’ on the ritz, appropriately dressed to the nines. “At the heart of the humor is the sublime narcissism of the professional players and their honest conviction that nothing matters except the theater.” (Variety) As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, "If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here by me."
It's Only a Play, Written by Terrence McNally Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89103; (March 3-19); Box Office (702) 362-7996