Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review of Buyer & Cellar at Broadway Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Buyer & Cellar. It was directed by Stephen Brackett and it was by Jonathan Tolins. It was about a guy named Alex More (Michael Urie) who worked for Barbra Streisand in her mall, which was in her basement, which no one but her and her husband came to. Barbra Streisand and Alex were becoming great friends, but Alex's boyfriend did not like that because he thought that she was stealing him. And he thought that Barbra Streisand was selfish, but Alex was defending her because he thought she was his friend. It is about friendship between a movie star and a regular guy, how rich people can be nice or they can be jerks, and frozen yogurt. I think that this was a really funny show and I liked how there was only one person in it because you got to see a lot of characters played by one person and see that person's abilities.

I thought that the set (by Andrew Boyce) was really cool. I like how it seemed like one tiny little house. And I liked the projection screen (projection design by Alex Koch) in the back to show where you were, like if you were in the doll shop, or if you were outside, or if you were in the main house, or at the boyfriend's home. I think they made the set feel small so then it would feel more like storefront theater and less like Broadway. It made you feel more like you were actually in the show.

I was worried at the beginning that it was just going to be the actor talking and making fun of the book My Passion for Design, which is Barbra Streisand's book about the house. I loved the actor, but I thought if that was the entire play that he would be the only good thing about it. But then it got rolling and he said, and here is a story about a guy named Alex who works with Barbra Streisand. And then they really started the story. Then he turned into Alex. And then he would turn into other characters, and I really liked that because there would be scenes where he was one character and then the other and then went back and forth. It sometimes could get really funny because he was switching back and forth so fast and he was switching personalities so quickly. It was also kind of amazing that he could actually do that.

The doll scene I thought was very funny because this was the first time Alex met Barbra Streisand. She came in and she wanted to place a doll on hold, the one that blows bubbles on a pipe and plays weird music. And she asked "What's her story?" in this questioning queen-like manner. Then he made up this tragic backstory of these girls in World War II whose father entertained them by making this doll while they hid from the Nazis but then the mother died and they kept the doll and one of the two girls went crazy and had to go to an insane asylum and the other one turned out to be lesbian and gave the doll away for other people's happiness. It was a very strange story and it was hilarious because it made no sense basically. Then she was like, "Oh, what a sad story. Can you put it on hold?" And then he said, "What name should I put it under?" and it was so clever that he said that. And then she said, "Oh. Um. Sadie" in a queen-like manner. That is great because she completely made up this name and then just left immediately. Their relationship is him trying to look clever and her trying to say, "You're not so clever." They are kind of having fun in this contest, but at the end when he asks her name, she just gets so frightened, it is hilarious.

I thought that the frozen yogurt scenes were hilarious. I liked both of them. I liked how in the first one when Alex got the frozen yogurt ready and when he gave it to Barbra she started making extraneous "murrrr this is soo good" noises. And going like "oh!" and pointing at it with a spoon a going like "Yeah. This is delicious." Then when her husband came down about 5 minutes later in the play but about 4 hours later in his world and asked for the same thing that Barbra had gotten, and once Alex gave it to James Brolin he did not eat it and I don't think he ever did. I think that his wife just asked him to go down there to see if Alex put on the rainbow sprinkles correctly now like she showed him when she came down and actually put on the rainbow sprinkles herself because she was so disgusted with how he did it. I loved how he did the James Brolin character. He was hilarious because he was so gruff and tough.

I thought all the Gypsy stuff was hilarious. Like when he started crying when he was singing "Here's your hat…" and he dips Barbra back and then he is her for a second and she says, "Is something wrong?" That was funny because they were doing Gypsy and he just literally started crying in the middle of a song and because it takes until almost the end until Barbra notices that he is bawling. Gypsy kind of reminded me of this, only Herbie was Barbra Streisand because he is the one who let the other person down by not being their friend. Gypsy is about a mom who doesn't know how to be a good mother and likes to push on people. Buyer & Cellar is also about things going wrong because of pushy people.

This was not all a funny play. There were some sad parts too, like when he breaks up with his boyfriend. And how in this show Barbra is a weird old lady who likes dolls and to play dress up. (But I don't know what she is really like. She might be a complete sweetheart for all I know.) I thought that the end was touching because he found out that the rug he had bought was too short and he returned it and he said it felt good. So Barbra Streisand had influenced him to be a more demanding person. To be demanding can be a good thing. When you ask for something that you want and pay good money for it, and it is wrong, you can send it back. It is good to be demanding about art. You should demand that everything is the way that you want it to be to move or to make people realize or to make people happy. That is another good reason to be demanding.

People who would like this show are people who like bubble-blowing dolls, hilarious tragic backstories, and laughing your face off. I think that people would have a lot of fun at this show because it is funny, touching, and the actor is amazing. It makes you think about friendship and about what it would be like to be famous and about frozen yogurt. This show makes you really want frozen yogurt and it is a good thing there is frozen yogurt in the building next door.

Photos: Sandra Coudert

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