Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for February 2010

Your man on the New York theater scene looks back at gay love and self-loathing in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s before shamelessly lusting after Broadway stars Liev Schreiber, Victor Garber, and High School Musical hunk Corbin Bleu.

BY Brandon Voss

February 23 2010 4:00 PM ET

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TIME STANDS STILL X390 (JOAN MARCUS) | ADVOCATE.COM

As if you had any doubts as to Alicia Silverstone’s talent, see Donald Margulies’s Time Stands Still, a satisfying if slight four-person drama standing firm at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through March 27. Even with her face covered in scars, Laura Linney is luminous as Sarah, a photojournalist just home to her Brooklyn loft after surviving a roadside bombing in Iraq, but it’s the Clueless star as Sarah’s editor’s naive girlfriend who gives the show its comic spark by challenging Sarah. Whether or not Sarah’s relationship with partner James (a can-you-believe-he-played-Shrek Brian d’Arcy James) will survive remains to be seen, but there’s an even meatier issue addressed regarding the responsibility of journalists to aid their subjects if needed or, as Sarah maintains, to simply report. Yeah, tell that to Anderson Cooper, lady.

A VIEW FRO THE BRIDGE X390 (JOAN MARCUS) | ADVOCATE.COM

Late Clueless actress Brittany Murphy starred as Catherine in the 1997 Broadway revival of A View From the Bridge. In the sturdy new revival of Arthur Miller’s 1956 drama, which ends April 4 at the Cort Theatre, a lovely and confident Scarlett Johansson takes on the 17-year-old, whose blossoming womanhood tempts her married uncle Eddie, a short-fused Brooklyn laborer played by smoldering Liev Schreiber. When Catherine courts Rodolpho, an Italian immigrant cousin the family takes in, a jealous Eddie ludicrously suggests that Rodolpho “ain’t right” because he’s blond, sings, and makes dress alterations. Clearly not calibrated to detect a European sensibility, Eddie’s wonky gaydar leads to the play’s most shocking moment: During a scuffle, Eddie desperately kisses Rodolpho on the mouth to see if he likes it or pulls away. I liked it a lot.

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In the latest Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter, which is presently scheduled through March 21, the great Victor Garber has smoothly slipped into the silk pajamas and smoking jackets of vainglorious 1930s West End matinee idol Garry Essendine, a role originally played by Coward himself. Those duds fit Garber beautifully, but Roundabout’s production as a whole comes off as a dud of a different cut. All the world’s a stage for a rakish, epicene wit like Garry, who floats through three farcical acts as he prepares for an African tour, yet the stage at the American Airlines Theatre — though the art deco set is a real stunner — is a bit sleepy. Rest assured there are some hard-earned laughs, largely thanks to supporting turns by Gossip Girl’s Holley Fain, Jeffrey’s Harriet Harris, and The Ritz’s manic Brooks Ashmanskas.

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