Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for November 2010
BY Brandon Voss
November 16 2010 5:15 PM ET
In Rob Ashford’s revival of the 1968 Burt Bacharach and Neil Simon musical Promises, Promises — which got a snazzy 1962 Mad Men design makeover at the Broadway Theatre by gay brothers Scott and Bruce Pask — Sean Hayes plays Chuck, an insurance company employee who lends execs his bachelor pad for extramarital trysts before falling for his boss’s side dish, the ever-charming Kristin Chenoweth. But the comic highlight of this stylish if somewhat sluggish production, which opened back in April and closes January 2, was Katie Finneran’s Tony-winning turn as barfly Marge MacDougall. Only Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon could have filled Finneran’s shoes, and she proves worthy to wear Marge’s owl coat with a delicious characterization that blends her SNL joyologist Helen Madden with her boozy Mrs. Dennit in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby.
If you’ve ever engaged in heated political discourse with a group of lesbians, you’ll feel uncomfortably at home at In the Wake, which runs through November 21 at the Public Theater. In this vibrant but exhausting new work from the lesbian dream-team of playwright Lisa Kron and director Leigh Silverman, Reasons to Be Pretty’s Marin Ireland stars as Ellen, a verbosely opinionated ultraliberal who has made a New York family with her cuddly boyfriend, his lesbian sister, and her partner — chill chicks who bristle when described as “girlfriends.” We first meet them on Thanksgiving in 2000, the dawn of Dubya, but Ellen’s too busy yapping to see that her life’s a bigger mess than the country — she retrospectively calls this a “blind spot” — particularly when she convinces her loving boyfriend to quietly cope after she unexpectedly starts up a torrid lesbian relationship in another city.