Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Wait Until Dark"

Capra's Portfolio

by Steve Capra

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Damn Yankees
Book by George Abbott and Douglas Wallop
Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jery Ross

When Damn Yankees opened in 1955, its concept was unlikely and refreshing. But the endearing temptress, Lola, turned into a hag at the final curtain, and the ending was quickly altered. It was one of Hal Princes early successes as producer. Now, after Sweeney Todd and Evita, its merely a innocuous period piece - the perfect vehicle for an American icon. The show opened in Boston at the end of January, starring Jerry Lewis.

The ensemble is quite servicable, and the shows directed with lots of dry ice and pyrotechnics. The costumes and design look just like a comic book; the sound design renders the singers inaudible. But who cares. People pay up to seventy bucks a pop to see Jerry Lewis - nothing else. What he does on stage isnt acting, exactly, in the sense of creating a character or executing an action. He sort of walks around and delivers the lines. From time to time he finds the opportunity to do his dumb schtick, and sometimes he pumps the audience for applause. He condescendingly sneered Locals! at us when we didnt laugh on cue. He stopped the show during his song-and-dance encore and told his borscht belt jokes while trying to twirl and catch his cane (he kept dropping it). At that point, he was really quite entertaining - he should only stick to stand-up.

The audience stood at the curtain call - not for the show, but for all those movies in which Lewis made fun of people with cerebral palsy. And because they were in the presense of someone really famous. That fact is more important to the the experience than any performance could possibly be. Lewis doesnt have to do anything - its enough to remind us of how we laughed, so many years ago, when American culture was at its nadir.

with Jerry Lewis, David Elder, and Valerie Wright
directed by Jack Obrien
choreography by Rob Marshall
scenic design by Douglas W. Schmidt
costume design by David C. Woolard
sound design by Jonathan Deans

at the Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street
through February 11

Steve Capra

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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