Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Nance

Cady Huffman as Sylvie

I saw The Nance a few weeks  ago (being in rehearsal and writing a commission do not lend themselves to much blogging time).  Primarily, I was going to see Cady Huffman, and Nathan Lane and Jack O'Brien couldn't hurt, right?  Lewis J. Stadlen I'd seen play Groucho Marx in Groucho:  A Life in Revue which my late, great friend Rusty Magee had musical directed.  I was not a big Douglas Carter Beane fan; I'd seen Advice from a Caterpillar and The Little Dog Laughed.  Not bad, but really not my cup of tea.  When I read Hilton Als' review in the New Yorker ("The Nance ... is a nearly perfect work of dramatic art"), I thought he's lost his mind.

Well, I was wrong.  I loved it.  I loved the script, and the fact that within the first 20 minutes there are references to both Singer's Midgets and Julian Eltinge, and the Lyceum is the perfect theatre for it.  I'm not sure I would have visualized Cady as a Communist striper, but I believe her every moment.  She and Lane are both touching and hilarious.  John Lee Beatty's turntable set is fantastic, Ann Roth's costumes are perfect (she is Ann Roth, I realize, but that baby doll nightgown that Cady wears with the hands on the tits is simply hilarious), the acting is across the board good (best thing I've ever see Stadlen do-  he and Lane even perform the "Niagara Falls" routine), the direction is just right.  Beane and Glen Kelly wrote new period-appropriate songs for the burlesque numbers. So good, in fact, my friend composer John Prestianni and I thought they might have been actual burlesque songs we weren't familiar with.   

Nathan Lane as Chauncey and Lewis J. Stadlen as Efram

 The Nance was extended through August 11th, and I'm going again.

Lincoln Center Theatre photos by Joan Marcus.

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