Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Broward Stage Door: Come Blow Your Horn (3 reviews)

Broward Stage Door opened its production of Neil Simon's first play Come Blow Your Horn, on January 22, 2010.
Alan Baker, a 30-ish swinging bachelor with time, money and women to spare, welcomes rebellious and eager 21-year old brother Buddy into his den of iniquity while their horrified parents can only watch and pray. This farcical romp became a hit movie starring Frank Sinatra.
Michael Leeds directs a cast that includes Matthew William Chizever, Ferrari St. Paul, Christian Castro, Phyllis Spear, Erica Lustig, and Kevin Reilley.

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The dialogue is well rehearsed, and the pacing is brisk—actually too brisk in some of the scenes between Alan and his girlfriend Connie, and Alan and his brother Buddy. There is sometimes a complete lack of organic response time because the lines are delivered so quickly, and the play suffers for it.
Matthew William Chizever is convincingly in control as ladies' man Alan Baker... He has the "player" part of his character down, but is a bit tense in the role.
Erica Lusting is a bit too passive as Connie... Ferrari St. Paul is well cast as Peggy. She makes the character perhaps easy but not cheap and, though dim, well intentioned and likeable.
Kevin Reilley is wonderful as Mr. Baker, wielding anger and guilt with the appropriate amount of weight at the needed times. Phyllis Spear is more of a caricature in her portrayal of Mrs. Baker. She plays the mother as older and more physically weary than is intended.
Despite the fact that Come Blow Your Horn was written in 1961, the writing holds up beautifully. The play survives the test of time better than Simon's Barefoot In The Park though it is not as well known. This production as the Stage Door has some minor flaws, but is still a welcome chance to see a great Neil Simon piece.
Despite their best effort to prevent anyone from reading it, we found Comi Zervaliz Neubert's review relegated to a community section of the Sun Sentinel:
Stage Door veteran Matthew William Chizever is adept at flushing out the dualities of Alan Baker, a sleazy, seemingly sophisticated scion working the family wax fruit business more off than on.
With her unique voice, naturally raspy and morphed by whispery edges, St. Paul is perfectly cast.
But the play's real comic centerpiece emerges when nurturing and sympathetic Mrs. Baker (Phyllis Spear)... pays a visit.... Spear's astoundingly seamless acting creates hilarity.
Not sure why this play needed to be reviewed twice by the Sun-Sentinel, when there are shows in Broward County that the Sentinel hasn't even reviewed once. Just one more piece of evidence that it's run by idiots, I suppose.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun Sentinel:
Broward Stage Door's revival of the 1961 warhorse will doubtless entertain its core audience because director Michael Leeds has a real feel for physical comedy. Frantic men get tangled in extra long phone cords and an exhausted mother struggles to escape a bean bag chair to answer an ever-ringing phone.

But half the evening misses the whip-crack comic timing and that schizophrenia when the middle class ethos of suburban stability and family solidarity collided against the loosened sexual mores of urban sophisticates.
Capable Matthew William Chizever portrays a playboy who likely gave birth to Charlie Sheen's libidinous character in Two and Half Men. While he convincingly portrays Alan's conflicted nature about committing to one girlfriend as well as his estrangement from his straight arrow father, Chizever just can't deliver the ring-a-ding-ding charisma that the part absolutely requires. This undercuts the first act.

On the other hand, Christian Castro, a 2008 graduate of Coral Springs Charter School, perfectly inhabits Buddy's affable goofiness and discomfiture during the first act, but is unconvincing as the newly-minted half-swan of the second act when Buddy ineptly copies his brother's moves.
Come Blow Your Horn plays at the Stage Door Theatre through March 7, 2010.

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