Tuesday, May 10, 2011

theatre review JUNE MOON - Roundabout Theatre Company Staged Reading, May 9

Last night we attended a reading of June Moon, the play by Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufman.  Starring Jim Parsons on his night off from co-starring in the Broadway revival of The Normal Heart, the reading also starred TR Knight, Samantha Mathis,  Dagmara Dominczyk and Mary Faber.

The Roundabout holds these types of readings a couple of times a year to determine if they should mount a full scale production of the work in the future.  We recently attended a great reading they held of Arsenic and Old Lace that starred Frances Sternhagen and Estelle Parsons.

June Moon is set in 1929, the year the play premiered on Broadway.  It tells the story of Fred Stevens, an aspiring lyricist on his way to New York City to make it big on Tin Pan Alley.  On the train to New York from his hometown of Schenectady he meets Edna ("Eddie") a young female dental assistant and the two of them fall into a relationship.  When Fred gets to New York he meets composer Paul Sears, who we soon discover is in debt, is far advanced against his royalties and hasn't had a hit song in years.  Paul sees Fred as his ticket to getting back on his feet and Paul's sister in law Eileen sees Fred as her meal ticket to late nite clubs, expensive clothes and a cruise to Europe.  Add to the mix Paul's wife Lucille, who isn't happy in her relationship with Paul and Paul's musician friend Maxie who is always around ready to play a tune in hopes that it will get sold to a record publisher and you have a comedy that is light and fluffy yet filled with an underlying sense of sadness as well as the occasional song.

For the reading, Jim Parsons was Fred, TR Knight was Paul, Samantha Mathis was Lucille,  Dagmara Dominczyk was Eileen, Mary Faber was Eddie and Mark Nadler was Maxie.  In supporting roles were Kevin McCarthy, Annaleigh Ashford, Bill Buell, Stephen Boyer, Robyn Hurder and Jay Sullivan.

The reading took place on the set of The Importance of Being Earnest at the American Airlines Theatre and the cast read from their scripts on music stands.  There were obviously no sets or costumes and very little stage movement, so you had to imagine a lot of what the direction and look and feel of the show would be like.

The cast for the reading was all great with Parsons, Faber, Knight and Mathis exceptionally good.  And while I liked Dominiczyk i thought that her modern look was at odds with the 1929 based character she was playing.  Obviously costumes and wigs would eliminate that, but for a reading where the performers are in street clothes it was somewhat of a distraction.

I enjoyed the play, but with a somewhat simple plot and a very dated storyline,  I can't imagine the Roundabout will decide to go forward with a full production of this show.

Besides Parsons who is appearing in The Normal Heart, Faber plays "Smitty" in the current revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Sullivan appears in the play Jerusalem.  So they were all working on their nights off as well.

5 comments:

  1. TR Knight was losing his voice. Is it true ?

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  2. yes, TR Knight did sound a little hoarse in the second act and he tried his best to get over the fact that he was losing his voice. It actually worked in his favor as at that point in the show he is somewhat upset with his wife so his hoarse voice made him sound even more upset.

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  3. Tank you for the info!

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  4. I was there as well and agree whole-heartedly with your take on the evening. We especially liked Fred and Mary Faber.
    I agree with the look of Dagmara. I kept telling myself that these people were not necessarily the final cast, if it ever were to be produced.
    The show was cute but VERY dated, which was a huge distraction for me.
    An enjoyable evening, all in all.
    Do the actors get paid for the reading? I now they like to put it in their Bios.

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  5. Ooops! I meant we liked Jim!

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