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Review: BUYER & CELLAR at Beck Center For The Arts

Review: BUYER & CELLAR at Beck Center For The Arts

BUYER & CELLAR puts Beck at the delightful center of the gay world

Barbra Streisand's career started in the gay nightclub, The Lion, located in New York's Greenwich Village. Her films and music have amassed huge support, especially from the gay community. She, and her works, are larger than life, leading to her being selected by "Out Magazine" as one of the "12 Greatest Female Gay Icons of All Time."

Many drag and gay entertainers have taken on the Streisand persona, singing her songs and acting out their idealization of her. None, probably has placed a more interesting spotlight on Barbra than Jonathan Tolins in his one-man comedy, BUYER AND CELLAR, now on stage at Beck Center for the Arts.

The play premiered on April 2, 2013 at the Rattlestick Playwrights in NYC. The production starred out gay actor, Michael Urie, best known known for his performances on television's UGLY BETTY and YOUNGER.

The play follows Alex More, a struggling gay actor who is down on his luck after being fired from Disneyland because of his impatience with the annoying kids at the Magic Kingdom. He lands a job keeping the basement shopping mall in Barbra Streisand's Malibu home clean, organized, as well as servicing the customers - of whom there is only one - Ms. Streisand, herself. "He comes to learn there are few bigger or more spoiled kids in the world than those with privilege and money."

In the play, after assuring the audience that the entire play is about a fictional person, working in a fictional location, for a celebrity so popular she is almost fictional herself, we are introduced to Barbra's secretary, who administers the shopping center and its one employee. More fantasizes about meeting the real icon. At first he does not meet her, but eventually Streisand comes to peruse her collection, and the two strike up a friendly relationship.

Side comments: Streisand did construct a series of Main Street storefronts beneath the barn on her Malibu property, inspired by the Winterhur Museum in Delaware, where she houses her dolls and "tchotchkes" (brick-a-bracs), which are written about in Streisand's 2010 coffee table book "My Passion for Design."

Also be aware that the script is liberally laced with Yiddish words and phrases. Though not a requirement, "farshteyn" (understanding) Yiddish helps in grasping some of the humor.

Winner of the 2014-2015 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, the playwright "ruminates with delicious wit and perspicacity on the solitude of celebrity, the love-hate attraction between gay men and divas, and the melancholy that lurks beneath narcissism."
This seriously funny slice of absurdist whimsy creates the illusion of a stage filled with multiple people, all of them with their own droll point of view

Reviews for productions of the 90-minute play state: "Hilarious!" "Beyond brilliant." "This show will go down like butta'!" and "Fantastically funny."

Beck's production features multi-talented Scott Esposito, who has received recognition for his acting skills by Cleveland Critics Circle and Broadwayworld.com. He has been seen locally in productions at Seat of the Pants Productions, Cain Park, Ensemble Theatre, French Creek Theatre, Lakeland Civic Theatre, Blank Canvas, Beck Center and Dobama.

Esposito has memorized and speaks hundreds of lines as the sole performer, portraying not only Alex More, but More's boyfriend, Streisand, Sadie (Streisand's alter-ego), and the great one's secretary.

He handles all of the characters with consistency of sound and mannerisms. He has a nice approach to comedy and his timing is excellent.

What is really impressive is not only Esposito's grasp of all of the lines in this production, but that several weeks ago he portrayed the leading role in OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD at Seat of the Pants Productions, in which he also had many, many lines to memorize.

The show was creatively staged by director Jamie Koeth.

CAPSULE JUDGMENT: BUYER AND CELLAR is a show that will delight gay audiences who will be able to laugh at themselves, as well as appreciate their perceived hero-worship of the world of divas, but should be a fun experience for the uninitiated into all things gay. Scott Esposito gives a finely tuned performance in this well-conceived play. So, "bubalah," If you want to escape from the world of covid and political stress, go see B&C, you may get "verklempt."

BUYER & CELLLAR runs September 9-October 9 in the Studio Theater of the Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood. For tickets call 216-521-2540 or go on line to beckcenter.org

Regional Awards


From This Author - Roy Berko

Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in... (read more about this author)


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