BWW Review: AN EVENING WITH BILLY CRYSTAL at Arsht Center

BWW Review: AN EVENING WITH BILLY CRYSTAL at Arsht CenterAs he enters late middle age, Mr. Billy Crystal has launched a global tour of comedy and reminiscence with Bonnie Hunt. Following the path of Mel Brooks, Steve Martin and Martin Short, Mr. Crystal and Ms. Hunt sit in comfortable chairs, cracking wise, and guiding us through his life. These tours allow the genius of the artist to come through with a glimpse of what seeing them in Scranton or Tahoe opening for Blood, Sweat, and Tears or Sammy David Jr. in their hay day.

Crystal has a short history on Broadway (two rounds of 700 Sundays) but a longer path in film and stand up (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers). He's always been a warm impressionist with sly wit. Lately, as he's aged, his comedy has kept up. And while, I can't relate to the challenges of peeing at 68, the humor is still vibrant and speaks to the core audience that attended his show at the Arsht Center Saturday evening in Miami.

The evening gently traverses his life including a jazz infused bar mitzvah on Long Island and being a film student under the tutelage of Martin Scorsese; and developing a comedic presence that led to opening for Blood, Sweat, and Tears in Scranton. He devotes a good portion to his relationship with boxed Muhammad Ali - including vintage footage of his impersonation and memorializing him last summer. Equally gripping is his relationship with Sammy Davis Jr especially their month in Tahoe. Crystal relates Davis' fictional evening thank you's to him (we went ice skating) and their practical jokes on one another. The impression - didn't always go over well with Davis - especially with it being on Crystal's answering machine message when Davis calls.

From there, we hear of his year on Saturday Night Live - complete with snippets. The richest vein of the evening discusses his movies - particularly When Harry Met Sally. Who knew Princess Diana had such a uniquely memorable laugh? He devotes a good amount of time to his relationship with City Slickers star Jack Palance and how the role almost went to another actor with a death wish.

Crystal is on point, humorous, slick, and still timely. He's got fresh material on the differences of grand parenting boys and girls and aging. The benefit of having Ms. Hunt on stage is it feeds Crystal new bits. Ideas, impressions come to him and he runs with it - quickly standing up and into the spot light. In this, he is brilliant and eternally ageless. The evening touches on Hunt and Crystal's relationship with Robin Williams.

With rock stars commanding hundreds for mining their catalog with no new material, it is refreshing for comedic stars to take to the stage, making stories that may appear in their auto-biographies come to life. Getting fresh new material is an added benefit. Ms. Hunt is affable, polite, and doesn't get in the way - in this she is a good foil and m.c. But truly the spotlight is on the comic Crystal who clearly has a lot left in the tank...even he had to stand on an apple crate during his Bar Mitzvah to be seen.

Tour dates and tickets can be found at http://www.ticketmaster.com/Billy-Crystal-tickets/artist/702567

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