BWW Review: CROSSING DELANCEY at The Alliance Theatre
The play, that follows the same story as the 1989 Gold Globe-nominated film, depicts the life of Isabelle (Izzy) Grossman as she reluctantly attempts to find love in New York City-with the help of a little scheming between her grandmother, Bubbie, and Hannah, the neighborhood matchmaker. In the end, Izzy must choose between Sam, the lovable pickle vender and first choice of Hannah and Bubbie, and Tyler Moss, the mysterious and handsome author who frequents the bookstore where Izzy works.
The set, designed by Kat Conley, is a gorgeous amalgamation of geometric rectangular panels that line the back of the stage simulating the New York City skyline, the cozy interior of Bubbie's Lower East Side apartment, and the claustrophobically tiny Upper West Side book shop where Izzy spends most of her time poring over Tyler Moss novels and serving few customers.
Conley's set make excellent use of the relatively small stage and add to the overall themes of the show by staging Bubbie's apartment as the lowest raised level, looked down upon by both the bookshop on the second level and the platform acting as a restaurant and Moss's apartment on the highest pedestal.
Conley's set is enhanced by Joseph A. Futral's lighting that elegantly transports the audience between dream states and reality through soft hues of blue and purple that glow against the skyline-esque panels.
The lighting throughout the piece also mirrors the color choices from Costume Designer Sydney Roberts whose stylistic choices-especially for the characters of Sam and Izzy-not only expressed the socioeconomic statuses of those on stage, but also coordinated characters with similar color palettes to subconsciously create cohesive pairings in the eyes of the audience before the events of the play fully transpire.
Susan Sandler's writing paired with the phenomenal acting on the part of this production's cast makes CROSSING DELANCEY a feast for the heart and mind. Mary Lynn Owen creates a beautiful, stubborn, and heartfelt character in Bubbie, and the dialogue written by Sandler is delivered by Owen as if she is making it up on the spot and all that is being said are her own crazy stories.
Owen's performance is so real that it is as if you are spending two hours with your own grandmother who, while she spouts stories and wisdom, tries to feed you everything that is on hand. There is something rich about Owen's brashness that is brought out by the delicate performances by Andrew Benator (Sam) and Sochi Fried (Izzy). They are both sincere and comedic in their physicality and subtle intonations, and they are able bring out jokes with gestures and glances that work well in the small space of the 250-seat theatre.
CROSSING DELANCEY isn't about breaking with tradition; it is about creating new traditions and seeing value in the old ones. It is about telling the story you want to tell with a little bit of help from those who love and care about you and seeing how your life can change for the better because of something as simple as putting on a new hat.
The Alliance may be on the road this season, but in their travels they continue to find new audiences with well-loved material that touches the hearts of all who witness it and that urges theater-goers to ask themselves questions about life and love.
CROSSING DELANCEY is recommended for ages 10 and up and can be seen at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody through November 25. Tickets can be purchased through the ALLIANCE THEATRE's website here.
More information on the Alliance's traveling season can be found on their website.
Photo Credit: Greg Mooney