The current show at the Newport Playhouse is the delightful romantic comedy, "Crossing Delancey" by Susan Sandler.The story is about Izzy, a young Jewish woman and her relationship with her grandmother, Bubbie. It is where the old world traditions of Bubbie clash with Izzy's contemporary ones. Izzy is infatuated with a pompous author but Bubbie wants to have great-grandchildren and hires Hannah, a matchmaker to fix her granddaughter up with the pickle man. Bruce Lackey directs his five performers wonderfully, obtaining many laughs and a heart warming feeling at the close of the show.
Erin Olsen excellently plays Izzy who works in a bookstore, visits her Bubbie on Sundays and lusts after Tyler Moss, her favorite author. The character of Izzy also narrates the vignettes of the show and the lighting changes for her dream scene. Erin conveys her love for her grandmother, distaste for the pickleman and Hannah as well as her longing for the author. The symbolic gift of a hat from Sam, the pickleman, helps Izzy decide what is important in her life. Erin is a topnotch actress who I reviewed many times at URI and the last time was this August when she played the bitchy Myrtle Mae in "Harvey" and last November when she played Mrs. Keller in "The Miracle Worker" at 2nd Story Theater. Erin's funniest line is when she tells him to kiss her ass in Yiddish. I directed "Crossing Delancey" back in 1991 and it brings back many pleasant memories. Molly Marks as Bubbie commands the stage in all her scenes including her interpretations of dreams and her pushing for a match for her beloved offspring. Molly's reactions and her interactions with the other characters is perfect and she sing some funny Yiddish songs including one about kugel. Some of her hilarious moments include when she pulls up layers of clothes to give Izzy $500 to make what she said about her granddaughter's dream come true, her disgust at Hannah's gluttony when she tells her to be a person and use a napkin, asks her how much she weighs, her astonishment at Sam's ugly jacket for the dinner scene and her hysterical reaction to Sam at the end of the show.( She pretends not to know him but secretly heard Sam and Izzy kissing.) The last scene is priceless and as Bubbie would say, it proves the old ways still work in these current times. Brava!
Another scene stealer in this show is Sandra Nicastro as Hannah. She wears a highly teased red wig and hilariously funny and outlandish outfits. The character reminds you of Lainie Kazan as the aunt on "The Nanny". Hannah eats nonstop in all the scenes in Bubbie's kitchen and puts the kugel and chicken wings in doggie bags and napkins to take home with her. Sandra's one liners are excellently delivered and she receives many laughs from them. John Brennan plays the role of Sam, the pickle man and gives it the warmth it needs, making him endearing to the audience. His winning personality makes you root for the pickleman to win the woman of his dreams. Sam is a wise man who lives in the present but still believes the old values of his father. His biggest laughs come with the bright pink jacket Hannah told him to buy from her brother-in-law and when he tells Izzy the ice in the glass was really Bubbie's false teeth. The pompous ass author, Tyler Moss is well played by Nishan Lawton. He pays no attention to Izzy until he wants her for his own ends. Nishan captures the role of this cad beautifully and deserves to be booed as this jerky character with the audience astonished at his audacity during their "date" scene. Bruce directs this show wonderfully with his blocking, stage business and character developments. He gives them a lot of business to do including the spitting scenes of Bubbie and Hannah where they want to stop the evil eye from happening to them. The gorgeous set by Fred Davison consists of three playing areas including Bubbie's old fashioned apartment with floral wall paper on stage left, a park bench on center stage and Izzy's bookstore with paneling on stage right. It captures the atmosphere of the East side of NYC beautifully. The stage manager, Henryce Zannini keeps things moving smoothly all night long, handling the lighting and sound cues beautifully. The excellent all you can eat buffet before the show is prepared by Sue Raposa with many mouth watering selections to chose from including home made turkey and stuffing. The rousing cabaret includes many numbers including a gorgeous duet from "Jekyll and Hyde" between Staci Morin and Jonathan Keene called "Love Has Come of Age". So for a wonderful evening out and a trip back to New York City, be sure to catch "Crossing Delancey" at the Newport Playhouse