Friday, April 16, 2010

Sean Hayes is perfection in PROMISES, PROMISES


Sean Hayes (Jack from TV's Will & Grace) shines in his Broadway debut of the musical revival Promises, Promises. As the curtain rises, he is seated onstage at his desk, eating his lunch, a lonely office worker circa 1962.

Chuck Baxter is a single guy, looking to impress his boss and work his way up the ladder at Consolidated Life. He has no friends, and a crush on Fran, the cute little blonde who doesn't know his name and works in the cafeteria, played by the incomparable Kristin Chenoweth.

But Chuck's biggest asset is that he lives in an apartment on the Upper West Side, a place where the married horndogs at Consolidated Life want to take their girlfriends for an hour or two before going home to the wife. Reluctantly, Chuck gets dragged into this arrangement, promised a big promotion by the upper management types who use his apartment.

When the big boss, well played by Tony Goldwyn, gets wind of this, he tells Chuck to dump the other guys and just let him bring his girlfriend there in exchange for a promotion. Chuck agrees, but is heartbroken when he discovers the boss's girl is his beloved-from-afar Fran.

Hayes' comic timing is perfection, and he excels at the physical comedy. The scene where he tries to sit in a modern chair in the boss's office is genius, and his comic asides to the audience make everyone feel an important part of the show.

The second act opens with the highlight of the show- a Christmas Eve bar scene between a drunken, heartsick Chuck and Marge McDougall, a blowsy widow, brilliantly played by Broadway vet Katie Finneran. Finneran and Hayes' drunken, flirtatious repartee leads to a hilarious dance scene, and Hayes could barely contain his laughter during the scene. It reminded me of Tim Conway cracking up his costars on The Carol Burnett Show, and the audience ate it up.

Another Broadway vet, Dick Latessa, turns in a fine performance as Chuck's neighbor, a doctor. Latessa, Finneran, and Hayes all have razor-sharp comedic timing in their scene in Chuck's apartment.

Chenoweth has a less comedic role, but the chance to hear her sing such Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic songs as "I Say a Little Prayer", "A House Is Not a Home" and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" gave me chills. Her lovely voice is so pure, I had goosebumps.

Surprisingly, Hayes has a sweet singing voice too, and he shines in the quieter songs, especially the duets with Chenoweth. The choreography by Rob Ashford, and the dancers add a vibrant note to this production.

Promises, Promises is a charming, funny, retro musical that surprisingly has some relevance in today's society, with it's storyline about men who cheat on their wives (Tiger, Jesse, and the rest). Hayes' charismatic performance ensures that he will not just be known as Jack McFarlyne for the rest of his long career.

If you are headed to NYC and want to see a fun, charming musical, don't miss Promises, Promises.

4 comments:

  1. Did you see the Wednesday matinee?
    Nice review. I totally agree!

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  2. I was at Wednesday's matinee. I see a lot of shows, and I just loved this one. I would go again! Thanks for the comment, Ellen.

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  3. I had a feeling since you mentioned Sean cracking up. That was such a cute moment wasn't it? I always liked him, but I totally fell in love with him during the show. I would go again too.

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  4. It was adorable, and I agree, I always liked him, but I fell in love too.

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