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My Least Favorite Meal of the Day: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Broadway

March 20th, 2013 Comments off

I’m not a morning person.
Breakfast at Tiffinay’s, which opened last night on Broadway at the Cort Theatre, hasn’t changed my mind.

Emilia Clarke as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. (photo by Jason Bell)

The debacled production attempts to adapt Truman Capote’s 1958 novella into a stylized homage to New York City and pulls out all the stops to do so. Sean Mathias, known for his international acclaim from northern Ireland to New Zealand, directed the piece while the trifecta Tony award-winning design team includes Derek McLane (scenic design), Colleen Atwood (costume design) and Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design). Throw another Tony award onto the pile with playwright Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, The Violet Hour, Eastern Standard) and one would expect a sure-fire hit.

Greenberg does his best to capture the sweet and snarky rhythm of Capote’s text, but the language falls flat on the tongues of the two central characters, Holly Golighty (played by Emilia Clarke) and Fred (played by Cory Michael Smith) — the show feels doomed from the moment Smith opens his mouth in a floating accent that migrates from New Orleans to some long forgotten acting class from his alumnus Otterbein University.

It is the pair’s Broadway debut and their lack of magnetism, chemistry and inexplicable ‘wow factor’ slowly dissolve into a trudging attempt to keep the simple story chugging along. Greenberg has broken the theatrical convention of the fourth wall, having Smith deliver much of his dialogue to the audience. You could drive a freight train through the emotional gap and by the time Smith warms up the play is nearly over.

Emilia Clarke and Cory Michael Smith in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. (photo: Nathan Johnson)

Clarke fares better but the deck is stacked against her. The ethereal ghost of Audrey Hepburn’s film interpretation looms in the wings. The creative team smartly chose to leave Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” out of the production and Clarke’s shining moment comes when singing a lonesome alternate melody on the fire escape with Fred gazing from afar. Clarke does her best to keep things moving along, slipping in and out of gorgeous period costumes that seem to hang as slightly off as the character herself.

Mathias’s staging feels clumsy set against the sliding panels illuminated with projections designed by Wendall K. Harrington — yet another reminder that the evening may have been better spent at home with the Netflix version. The actors are put through the paces of a painfully choreographed dance sequence then later directed to imitate horseback riding by using a theatrical convention that further exemplifies their lack of physical command.

There is one cameo appearance that teases the audience with what the production could have been. Veteran actor Lee Wilkof, celebrating his eighth show on Broadway, takes command of the stage as Holly’s manager, O.J. Berman. He packs a one-two punch of a monologue that reveals more about Holly than the rest of the play combined. Loud, brash and with a roller coaster of emotion and intent, perhaps Wilkof will rub off on the younger generation of actors throughout the play’s run.

Like Holly Golightly herself, Breakfast at Tiffany’s seems to have gone astray from the onset, and as many loving hands have apparently tried to shoo her back on track, she’s inevitably a lost soul.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street
www.breakfastattiffanysonbroadway.com 

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Hanks, Breakfast at Tiffany’s & More Hollywood on the Hudson

October 22nd, 2012 Comments off

It’s no surprise anymore when Broadway attempts to add some extra pizazz to the marquee by sprinkling some Hollywood stardust, whether through film star casting or name brand titles. But four recent news tidbits caught my eye as particularly covered in tinsel (town):

  • Emilia Clarke. Image via O+M.

    It’s official: two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is coming to Broadway April 2013 in Lucky Guy, a play by the late, beloved Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle). A tale of New York journalism during the 1970’s, this play adds additional cache with its director George C. Wolfe (The Normal Heart). I imagine tickets are already sold out before they go on sale but…a boy can dream.

  • If that’s not “old hollywood” enough for you, how about a new adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Truman Capote’s classic is getting a fresh (and supposedly more faithful than the Hepburn film) adaptation by Tony-winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out). Those who are more fantasy geek than Tiffany’s chic will also have reason to check it out; the February 2013 bow will star Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke.
  • Multiple Emmy-nominee Sarah Paulson (Game Change, American Horror Story) may not have above the title multiplex stardom, but to me she’s A-list. And now comes news that she is coming back to the stage to star in Roundabout’s revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley’s Folly. Paulson will be joined in the sweet love story by recent Broadway everyman Danny Burstein (Follies…perhaps he should do La Cage aux Folles next and continue the pattern?).
  • Don’t count out true Broadway glitter, though. The bigger than life new musical Giant, based on the Liz Taylor – Rock Hudson – James Dean classic, is heading to the Public starring Blog favorites Brian d’Arcy James (Smash) and Kate Baldwin (Finian’s Rainbow). Watch the video from their recent promo shoot (after the jump below) and tell me the Great White Way can’t be just as glamorous.

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