Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for May 2010
BY Brandon Voss
May 04 2010 2:00 PM ET
If you’re never supposed to let ’em see you sweat, director Stanley Tucci failed to inform his cast of Lend Me a Tenor at the Music Box Theatre. The actors are clearly working hard for your money in this starry Broadway revival of Ken Ludwig’s 1989 farce, which is set in a hotel suite on the night that opera great Tito Merelli is performing Otello at the Cleveland Opera Company. Justin Bartha, adorable star of The Hangover, leads the frantic farceurs as Max, a nebbishy assistant who dons blackface, saves the day, and gets the girl when Tito appears to be dead, but Tony Shaloub is the standout here as the company’s abrasive general manager, who does spit-takes directly into the audience. There’s also some easy gay humor — Max’s hand rests on a sleeping Tito’s crotch, etc. — and a mild stench of desperation to fill the lulls between the laughs.
Writing about music might be like dancing about architecture, but talking about art can sometime make for exhilarating theater. Such is the case with Red, John Logan’s two-person bio-drama that runs through June 27 at the Golden Theatre. In this cerebral yet accessible West End transfer, set in a studio during the late 1950s, Alfred Molina wows as abrasive abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, who hires a young assistant, Ken, while creating a commissioned series of paintings for New York’s Four Seasons restaurant. The exquisite Eddie Redmayne, who played gay in Savage Grace, costars as the somewhat enigmatic helper — he barks at Rothko for not even asking if he’s married or queer — who calls the artist on his pretentiousness. Their feverish tag-team priming of a canvas puts a positive new spin on the phrase “watching paint dry.”