Doesn't make any difference if you are considering Michael Urie's astounding performance, Jonathan Tolins brilliant script or the perfect direction by Stephen Brackett, the word 'genius' applies to each of them. 'Buyer and Cellar' at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater is a work of art, an evening of entertainment and theater at its best.
The one man show is about a young actor who obtains a position in 'Barbra Streisand's 'private mall' in the basement of her home in Malibu. The famous Barbra is the only customer over the months. A purely fictionalized account (although the famous diva does have her own private mall!) that is filled with laughter and even a compassionate view of her life. Young 'Alex' sits waiting alone for her to appear and 'shop' and believes that Streisand and him are becoming friends.
Tolins has paced the play at the speed of a machine gun. Words pour forth from Urie who plays not only the young actor 'Alex' but shares with us his interpretation of the famous singer. Urie also channels Streisand's assistant and husband James Brolin. The script is a gift to any actor filled with belly laughs, insight into the human condition and rich in dialogue. Tolins who is most known for his "Twilight of the Golds', has written a play that can only make other writers green with envy. It is that good.
How fortunate Tolins is to have actor Michael Urie to play all the characters. Urie who is one of the entertainment industry's bright young stars gives perhaps his best performance ever in this gem. For an hour and a half, without a break, Urie commands the stage and refuses to allow the audience or himself to rest. His ability to own the rapid fire dialogue without total exhaustion is impressive to watch. You keep waiting for him to wind down and fortunately for us he refuses to let go.
Urie, who wowed critics in 'The Temperamental's', smartly does not attempt to resort to cheap and easy Barbra imitations but instead conveys her presence on stage with creative and brilliant energy, smart dialogue and movement. A simple flick of the hands will cause laughter. A cleaver look into the audience with wide eyes speaks a million words. Few actors could handle the intrinsic's of Tolins' play and Urie wraps it and presents it to the audience as a great gift of magnificent theater.
You leave the theater hoping that this talented actor will be on stage often in the future so we can selfishly watch him over and over in many different shows.
None of this would have been possible without the talented and incredible direction of Stephen Brackett. The young director is becoming one of the most sought after in New York theater. He doesn't resort to gimmicks or temptation to please an audience. Brackett is an actor's director who trusts his team's ability to convey the splendid words of the playwright. He has taken Urie's incredible talent with the playwrights words and given us an astounding evening of theater.
Brackett is one of the best directors in use of video projection design and with the talents of Alex Koch he uses it with great effect in creating 'The Streisand Mall".
'Buyer and Cellar' is likely to sell out in this small space so I would reserve my tickets now. Click here and treat yourself to an intelligent, funny and dynamic evening of theater.