It’s very rare that I get to go to the theater these days. Growing up I had a grandfather who loved Broadway and would annually take me for dinner and a show each year as my birthday gift. This was a wonderful departure, I’m sure, from the operas my grandmother was always dragging him to. To this day I doubt anyone has taken more naps at the Met than he did. Sadly, those days of dates with grandpa are long gone, and so are the days when trips to the theater are common. Tickets do not come cheap these days, throw in commuting to the city and a babysitter and I can forget dining out again for an entire month.
That’s why when Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ offered me a chance to see their new show Honeymoon in Vegas, I jumped at the opportunity. In thirteen years my husband and I have only seen one play together…and it was a high school one. A writing assignment that can double as a date? Yes please! I was gifted with two tickets in exchange for sharing my opinion.
I had never been to Paper Mill and so I didn’t know much about it. When I learned about the quality of their productions and the stars they attract (a friend told me Anne Hathaway got her start here) I was thrilled. If you want the quality of New York City theater without the hassles of New York City, well apparently this is the place to be. According to Paper Mill’s John Zeitoun who coordinates social media for the theater this indeed is a pit stop on the way to “The Great White Way”.
There are two big audience draws in Honeymoon, which is directed by Gary Griffin and features music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years).The show, based on the 1992 comedy starring Nicholas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and James Caan, stars Tony Danza (Taxi, Who’s The Boss) in the James Caan role of a gambler who falls for the fiance of Jack Singer played by Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin, Avenue Q). McClure is an onstage powerhouse of energy who takes the role to its max. Danza is convincing as the conniving Tommy Korman. He plays the role with the suavity you’d expect from a rat packer.
Once watching the show you see there are more draws than just the big names on the ticket. Honeymoon boasts two very talented leading ladies. Brynne O’Malley ( Annie, Wicked) plays Betsy Nolan, Jack’s fiance. She has an incredible voice, one which moved me to tears during the emotional number Anywhere But Here. As she was leaving the theater RHONJ Kathy Wakile, more on her later, told her how wonderful she performed. Another notable performance was from Nancy Opel (Gypsy, Urinetown) who was very funny as Jack’s mother Bea who haunts him from the dead to keep his promise to never marry.
With a strong ensemble, terrific set, and a fabulous score I can see Honeymoon making its way to the Big Apple. Never having seen the movie, I have some strange aversion to Nicholas Cage, I actually would like to rent it now and compare. The stage version was funny, modern, and entertaining.
Wakile, who was there with husband Richard and another couple enjoyed it as well. I caught up with her backstage after the performance where we got to speak with Danza. “It’s work,” Danza said about his performance, “but as my father would have said it’s good work.” Wakile brought him some of her cannolis. With all that singing and dancing, he can definitely indulge!
Honeymoon in Vegas will be playing at Paper Mill Playhouse through October 27th. For tickets and information you can call the box office at 973-376-4343 or visit papermill.org .
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