BWW Reviews: ENTER LAUGHING - THE MUSICAL Lights Up Wallis Annenberg

BWW Reviews: ENTER LAUGHING - THE MUSICAL Lights Up Wallis Annenberg

Enter Laughing - The Musical/book by Joseph Stein/music & lyrics by Stan Daniels/directed by Stuart Ross/Lovelace Studio Theater of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Beverly Hills/through March 1

Genius comedy writer Carl Reiner's novel Enter Laughing about a Jewish boy from the Bronx named David Kolowitz dreaming of Broadway success in the 30s spawned a play in the 60s of the same name by Joseph Stein and later a musical version called So Long, 174th Street... and a revised version off Broadway in 2008 entitled Enter Laughing - The Musical with book again by Stein and music and lyrics by Stan Daniels. They won't leave it alone, and for obvious reasons. It's delicious material that deserves to be seen and appreciated for what it truly is: terribly silly entertainment, now onstage at the Annenberg in Beverly Hills until March 1 only.

Yes, you should not take it too seriously. Dozens of stories have been written about the conflict between hard-working middle-class Jews and show business. Their philosophies do not mesh. When Mrs. Kolowitz (Anne DeSalvo) hears about her son David's (Noah Weisberg) involvement in the theatre and with its leading lady, she responds, "A night school for tramps!" and insists that he have no part of it. Of course, she and Mr. Kolowitz (Robert Picardo) only want what's best for their son and so they ask a brother for a loan to send David to pharmacy school. Oy! Poor David! What is there to look forward to? It's not that he doesn't already have a nice girlfriend.Wanda (Sara Niemietz), who is willing to go so far as to lend him ten dollars to buy a tuxedo for his role in the play. And he's attempting to cheat on her behind her back. Now that's devotion on her part! Or is it stupidity? See what I mean by silliness? David is a delivery boy for a machine shop run by Mr. Forman (Joel Brooks), who is also having trouble getting David to shape up. David dreams and lies to find his true calling, trying to leave guilt behind, even at the expense of being cast out by his mother, but in this script, it's all in fun. To add even more craziness, David is totally inept and 'green' as an actor, in fact, a disaster waiting to happen - at a crucial audition he reads the stage direction 'enter laughing' without realizing what it means. It's because of pretty leading lady Angela Marlowe (Amy Pietz), who is attracted to David, that he is hired by her director father Harrison (Nick Ullett)...only at her insistence. Calamity, calamity afoot!

BWW Reviews: ENTER LAUGHING - THE MUSICAL Lights Up Wallis Annenberg

A word or two about the songs and production numbers. They are deliriously, poking fun at everything including the family's religion. Joseph Stein also wrote the book for Fiddler on the Roof and we catch glimpses of that here with background chorus in prayer shawls and yamakas dancing up a storm. Stan Daniels' music and lyrics are simply delightful especially Angela's "The Man I Can Love", Wanda's "Men", "Hot Cha Cha" for Forman and Mr. Kolowitz and "The Butler's Song" where David envisions himself a mega star with Harrison Marlowe his butler, excusing his absence on the phone to Greta Garbo, proclaiming that he is scr--ing Dolores Del Rio. Hilarious stuff!

BWW Reviews: ENTER LAUGHING - THE MUSICAL Lights Up Wallis Annenberg

Under director Stuart Ross' fine staging, the cast are superlative. Weisberg brings terrific angst and innocence to David. Picardo and DeSalvo perform wonderfully as the strict and overly possessive parents, as does Brooks as 'caring' Mr. Forman. Niemietz is sweet and loving as Wanda, and Pietz steals the hour as diva Angela Marlowe. Right behind her in scene stealing is Ullett, who is an absolute hoot as her booze-guzzling father Harrison Marlowe. Also lending fine support are Jeff Skowron as goofy friend Marvin, Janet Dacal as one of David's hopeful conquests, and Gerry McIntyre and Mueen Jahan as additional theatre folk. Great to see funnyman McIntyre - one of the original Forbidden Broadway people - who always lends a few laughs. There is a surprise actor playing Harry Hamburger each week. This week's guest is a very recognizable face from TV, past and present.

Kudos to the three piece musical combo with resourceful Gerry Sternbach at piano. Evan A. Bartoletti has designed simple, functional set pieces and Leon Wiebers' costumes particularly for the women are period lovely.

Get your self over to the Annenberg for a delightfully enjoyable evening of theatre. Enter Laughing is an uber amusing musical period piece with a scrumptious cast that you do not want to miss!

BWW Reviews: ENTER LAUGHING - THE MUSICAL Lights Up Wallis Annenberg

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From This Author Don Grigware

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