When I started to go to the theater in my late teens, I went with one intention – to be entertained. I wanted an escape, an outlet. I wanted to simply spend time away from reality, not thinking a lot about life and its problems. I wanted simplicity – and fun – and laughs. Honeymoon In Vegas is a show that reminds me of the old times…a simple show, meant to entertain and not make the audience ponder too much. It comes at time when we need to laugh – to enjoy our lives and to sit back and take it all in. I cannot tell you how much I loved this show.
So –what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas – but when it comes to New York, watch out and prepare yourself for an evening of laughter, frolic and unadulterated pure fun. The plot closely resembles the movie screenplay. Rob McClure, who made a name for himself as Chaplin two years ago on Broadway, plays Jack Singer, a likeable, nerdy guy. He wants to marry his girlfriend, Betsy (played by Bryn O’Malley) but has commitment phobia. Each time Jack gets close to marriage, he is haunted by the ghost of his deceased mother, played brilliantly by the hysterically funny Nancy Opel. Jack finally bites the bullet and decides to take Betsy to Las Vegas to marry her there.
The ease of a Vegas wedding is complicated by Jack’s big loss in a poker game –headed by a suave wise guy named Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) who orchestrates a huge monetary loss for Jack. The only way to repay Tommy is to have Betsy spend a weekend with him…as Tommy sees her as a replacement for his deceased wife. Tommy, however, wants to take it further and employs a cast of characters to keep the couple apart and fulfill Tommy’s goals.
There is nothing complicated about Honeymoon in Vegas, which makes it all the better. It is a simple musical comedy. Rob McClure is just brilliant. He is a physical comedian – perfect for this role. Bryn O’Malley is wonderful as the lovelorn fiancée. The supporting players are excellent, especially Nancy Opel as Jack’s deceased mother popping up in the oddest of places. Catherine Ricafort does a fine job as a distraction for Jack. David Josefsberg does double duty as the lounge singer and the head Elvis impersonator. Only my friend Gene DiNapoli might be able to give him a run for his money – but otherwise he teeters between the two characters wistfully.
Tony Danza is a joy to watch. He plays the wise guy with charm and charisma – so much so that you almost want him to steal Betsy from Jack. Just when you think that is going to happen, he changes like a chameleon and his deceitful side is exposed. He sings and dances with sincerity, warmth and joy..truly entertaining.
I so much enjoyed Jason Robert Brown’s score. Each song advances the plot and the characters and each song is unique in its sound and its message. It was great to see people leaving a show and humming a tune. The overture, which is so rarely heard these days in new musicals, is the perfect beginning, as it is both welcoming and entertaining.
This is a musical that needs to survive. It needs a long run. Audiences deserve this. Jason Robert Brown deserves this. The entire cast deserves this. Run to see Honeymoon In Vegas —- NOW!!!!!!!
NEXT WEEK – The Play Revivals – A Delicate Balance, The Elephant Man and You Can’t Take it With You!