Total Rating: 
March 10, 2017
April 5, 2017
July 2, 2017
New York
New York
Jordan Roth, Jujamcyn Theaters, Spencer Ross, A.C. Orange International, Eric Falkenstein, Grove Entertainment, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Harbor Entertainment, Joe Everett Michaels / Robert F. Ryan, Daryl Roth.
Theater Type: 
St. James Theater
Theater Address: 
246 West 44 Street
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 30 min
Noel Coward
Moritz von Stuelpnagel

First reaction upon seeing Kevin Kline: Damn, he’s handsome. Perfect casting for the vain, egocentric actor Garry Essendine, the renowned lover whose greatest love is his own reflection. This is definitely a fine figure of a man; it’s easy to see why silly girls gush over him and mature women lust for him. Even when we first see him, coming down the stairs disheveled and hung over, he’s still dishy. Once again, Garry has had quite a night, and the melodramatic debutante ensconced in the spare bedroom has fallen for his line and reaped the reward.

Garry is surrounded by women who care about him. His loyal secretary, Monica (Kristine Nielsen) is wry and wise cracking, but devotes herself to protecting him and taking on the more mundane, often unpleasant tasks herself. His amicably estranged wife — they never quite got around to getting divorced — Liz (Kate Burton) is also vigilant to make sure Garry isn’t any more distressed than is natural for him. Nielsen and Burton are first rate as a counter balance to the near hysterics of their mutual man-child charge. They are women of substance, with enviable poise and razor sharp comic chops.

Garry is preparing an imminent theatrical tour of Africa, a device which brings a certain immediacy to the hijinks, but as in most farces, the near misses and slamming door moments do get tiring. The telephone ploy is fun, as is the consistently handy escape route which is facilitated by Liz’s car and driver.

Cobie Smulders is a knockout as Joanna, who has almost as many admirers as Garry, the object of her desire. She’s reed thin, and wears a figure hugging slinky black gown; the woman positively drips diamonds. How could any man resist?

This is a one-set show, and what a set it is. The audience applauds as the curtain goes up; we see the perfect lair for our star. This is wealthy yet somewhat bohemian London, circa 1939. No hint here of an imminent world war; the rest of the universe just doesn’t exist. Books are everywhere in view, so we know he’s intelligent. Lots of paintings are hung on the walls, because he’s obviously cultured. There’s a comfortable seating area, where lots of coffee is served. Mirrors, and Garry Essendine posters are in evidence, of course, and a piano awaits the touch of the man who plays it, sometimes as a point of solace.

The element of whimsy is rather genius; a mounted deer head at the entrance to the flat sports hats on its antlers. Garry gets around. David Zinn’s set comes very close to being a character in its own right.

Noel Coward’s work, if badly done, can be brittle and boring. With Moritz Von Stuelpnagel’s accomplished directing, Susan Hilferty’s fabulous costume design, and a dream cast built for getting every possible laugh, this production amuses and delights. As for Mr. Kline, when he utters the famous line, “I’m always acting,” his adoring public sighs, “Yes, please.”

Kevin Kline, Kate Burton, Kristine Nielsen, Cobie Smulders, Bhavesh Patel, Reg Rogers, Matt Bittner, Ellen Harvey, Peter Francis James, Tedra Millan, Sandra Shipley
Sets: David Zinn, costumes: Susan Hilferty, lighting: Justin Townsend
Michall Jeffers
Date Reviewed: 
April 2017