I can't remember when I've laughed as hard and for so long as I did while enjoying Michael Urie in Buyer & Cellar, a hilarious evening of imaginative entertainment at Chicago's Broadway Playhouse. We have become a nation that worships the celebrity and this play by Jonathan Tolins strikes a chord that resonates for the entire evening of marvelous entertainment.
When we meet Alex More, played to perfection by the talented Michael Urie (Marc St. James on TV's "Ugly Betty", he is carrying a copy of Barbra Streisand's 2010 coffee-table book, "My Passion for Design", (which I hope you didn't pay $60 for). The book's text and voluminous illustrations detail the design and construction of her dream refuge along the California coast. But, thanks to Alex, we'll get to visit this monument to excess.
This is where fiction takes over from fact and the non-stop spirited hi-jinx begins. Alex has been fired from some menial job at Disneyland and has been hired as keeper of the underground shopping mall that Barbra has constructed as part of her palatial palace. There's a doll shop, costume store, sweet shop, antique store and more that house the paraphernalia that Ms. Streisand has collected over the years. She makes regular visits and even buys stuff. Early on she doesn't want to pay what Alex considers a fair price for a doll and they actually haggle over the price. I know it sounds preposterous, but the actions on stage are so well developed that you buy into it.
What happens for the next ninety minutes includes an examination of both the upside and dark regions of celebrity-hood. You laugh until your realize that maybe you shouldn't find this so funny. Playwright Jonathan Tolins, actor Michael Urie and the astute direction of Stephen Brackett have combined their considerable talents to fashion an evening of irresistible entertainment.
Buyer & Cellar plays Tuesday thru Sunday at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut. Tickets at (800) 775-2000. For more information visit www.BuyerandCellar.com
Filed under: Theatre Reviews