Theatre Review: “Enter Laughing”

Enter Laughing: The Musical, on stage at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor through September 4, is HILARIOUS! You will exit laughing. You will laugh until you cry. I strongly caution you to use the restroom before the show begins. The house was at near capacity last Friday night—so get your tickets as soon as possible!

With a book by Joseph Stein and music and lyrics by Stan Daniels, it’s little wonder that this show is a remarkable vehicle for gifted actors. It was originally titled So Long, 174th Street when it debuted on Broadway in 1976, starring Robert Morse. It’s based on Carl Reiner’s semi-autobiographical novel of that name. [expand]

Who knew that Jeff Goldblum and Matthew Broderick had a son together 30 years ago and named him Josh Grisetti? This kid is terrific as David Kolowitz, the lead character whose antics are based on the early career of Carl Reiner. He’s outstanding, but the whole cast is comprised of triple threats—actors who can sing and dance like mad.

I knew Richard Kind was funny—who knew he could deliver as a singing butler? Kind is ideally cast as the over-the-top, hammy old-time theatre impresario Harrison Marlowe.

The husband and wife team of Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry remains a dynamic duo. You’ll remember them from the television show “L.A. Law.” Both are perfectly convincing and outrageously funny in their roles as the archetypical Jewish father and mother to David.

Emily Shoolin was well cast as David’s girl-next-door love interest, Wanda. Though not Jewish (gasp!) Wanda is an ingénue with chutzpah.

Kate Shindle as Off-Broadway diva Angela Marlowe nearly stops the show with her full-out rendition of “The Man I Can Love.” Her Angela is the perfect mix of exhibitionist and needy spoiled brat.

Of course director Stuart Ross deserves credit for the spunky, vulnerable bend of the show and the cast’s meticulous timing. Teenage boys’ obsession with breasts is expressed with a steady hand. And bravo to Geoff Josselson for his expert casting.

I found the costuming by David Toser outstanding in the main. The fitted shapes and blending of all those classic textures recalled the early 1940s, a study in contrasts. A big laugh in the show comes when the entire cast appears in green polka dot aprons with white rickrack. A boa made of paper napkins, anyone? Good stuff.

There is nothing objectionable in this show—unless the notion of turning down a booty call from Greta Garbo offends you.

James Morgan’s set really looks like an old theater and its open plan serves the action of the play well.

The lighting by Ken Billington is what you look for in good stage lighting—it didn’t draw attention to itself. The projected Star of David at David Kolowitz’s imagined shiva really set the scene.

Choreographer Jennifer Paulson Lee is also to be lauded for her seamless work on this show. And the live musicians are great. Music Director Phil Reno had his piano stepped on and a kimono swatted into his face, yet he kept right on playing.

Though not made explicit in the playbill, this production comes to us by way of the York Theatre in New York. I hope we can expect more such ventures, as the quality is outstanding.

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