Review Roundup: BIG NIGHT at The Kirk Douglas Theatre

Review Roundup: BIG NIGHT at The Kirk Douglas Theatre

BIG NIGHT follows Mike on Hollywood's biggest night. He is nominated for an Oscar, though there's much more on his mind than the award. His transgender nephew wants him to make a political statement with his speech, his mother has a bombshell announcement for him, and his boyfriend hasn't returned any of his calls. To top it all off, Mike's night is about to take an unexpected turn while the whole world watches.

The cast features Brian Hutchinson as Michael, Max Jenkins as Cary, Kecia Lewis as Eleanor, Luke MacFarlane as Austin, Wendie Malick as Esther, and Tom Phelan as Eddie.

BIG NIGHT has a book by Paul Rudnick, with direction by Walter Bobbie, set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by William Ivey Long, and lighting design by Ken Billington.

The world premiere of BIG NIGHT runs through October 8 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Charles McNulty, L.A. Times: But Rudnick, the author of the plays "I Hate Hamlet," "Jeffrey" and "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," the screenplay "In & Out" and countless New Yorker humor columns, populates his five-star suite more densely. This ostentatious room with an entrancing L.A. view becomes an LGBTQ microcosm as visitors arrive full of congratulations, special requests and dizzying surprises... "Big Night" may be earnest in patches, not entirely convincing and a bit thin, but Rudnick hasn't lost his talent to amuse. The play is funny even when it stumbles and stalls.

Shari Barrett, BroadwayWorld: Kudos to the actors who so realistically present the characters, especially in the aftermath of the horror-filled attack. And while the play may need a little refinement in its flow, I think those of us who work in the industry, as well as those who wish they did, will appreciate the often humorous look inside what goes on behind the scenes on Oscar night when things go in both the best and worst possible ways.

Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: Jenkins kills in the early going, the perfect vehicle for Rudnick's best zingers. In fact gags are abundant in the play's first half, and occasionally some of them land - "Now there's a woman who believes cosmetics should be tested on Republicans" - but many more do not, with a few summoning the sound of crickets... If these and other issues are addressed in subsequent drafts, hopefully veteran director Walter Bobbie's work with his cast can be fine-tuned. A 2007 Tony winner for Chicago, Bobbie's timing with the actors often brings added punch to Rudnick's best lines.

Samuel Garza Bernstein, Stage and Cinema: A star is born. Max Jenkins. From the moment this theater and television veteran steps onto the stage in his shiny tuxedo pumps, he commands our attention, paralleling the play's Cinderella story of a working actor coming into his own. His sly wit, gleeful underplaying, and unexpected moments of pathos are astonishing. Rudnick and director Walter Bobbie give Jenkins free rein to turn this "shallow" agent into the emotional heart of the show... Director Walter Bobbie has a flair for light comedy, and he easily balances the emotional moments, never letting the pendulum swing too far one way or the other. For my money, Bobbie is theater.

Katie Buenneke, Stage Raw: The first half of the play moves along well, with an almost sitcom-like pacing of quips and zippy punchlines. The writing feels a bit too expository - the characters spend a lot of time saying what they're thinking and delivering monologues about backstory. Still. Cary, Michael's agent, has so many great one-liners that it's easy to forgive those faults... Indeed, it's Jenkins' Cary, who doesn't talk much throughout the second half, who makes the biggest overall impression, likely due to his great comedic timing.

Photo: Craig Schwartz

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