BWW Review: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S Charms at 2nd Story
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S is a literary and movie classic that always charms, and 2nd Story Theatre's production captures the setting and characters perfectly. If you haven't been to 2nd Story lately, it's worth a visit just to see all of the changes. The sets for this production, by Max Ponticelli, take the previous stadium seating configuration into a theatre in the round with brownstone facades, cobbled stones and a lovely balcony perfect for singing Moon River. Every aspect of this production is so well thought out that you immediately feel like you've slipped into 1940's New York City the second you sit down. There are a couple aspects of this production that dull the magic slightly, but overall, this is charming summer theatre that will also tugs at heartstrings.
Though Holly Golightly is probably the most recognizable name from Breakfast at Tiffany's, the narrator of our story is someone whose real name we never actually learn. Eventually, Holly dubs him "Fred" after her brother, and he's the fish out of water who lands in the big city and encounters the strange and charming and sad Holly who author Truman Capote described as an American Geisha. Despite not having a name of his own, Fred is our touchstone in this play, and actor Matthew Gorgone is more than capable of guiding the audience along this journey. Gorgone is a recent arrival (or newly returned?) to the Rhode Island theatre scene, and he is proving himself to be exceptionally competent. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but like a much younger Tom Hanks, he can be relied upon each time to deliver a performance that is subtle and affable, as the role requires. It rarely seems like he's acting, he just becomes his character in a way that feels 100% honest. Even seeing him play multiple roles at multiple theatres, he has a knack to seem completely sincere all the time despite how varied the roles may be. It's a rare quality, and certainly one worth watching.
Gorgone is a perfect choice to sherpa us into the mad and erratic world of Holly Golightly, played by Kerry Giorgi. Giorgi is perfectly cast in this role in that one is immediately drawn to her looks, fabulous clothes and affected pout that manages to not become irritating; but ultimately her performance doesn't quite convey the layers of Holly Golightly's personality. Her affected accent and flippant demeanor don't evolve along with her relationship to Fred, which leaves the story somewhat underwhelming at times. Even the scene where Holly gets word that her brother has died, which should be absolutely gutting, seems merely sad because Giorgi is not letting us peek behind the curtain enough to have genuine empathy for her. When it comes to charm and oozing charisma, that is handled well, but the full picture of this complicated woman never quite manifests.
The supporting cast are also excellent, in particular F. William Oakes as Doc, Jennifer Michaels as Mag and Cardryell Truss as OJ Bergman. There are a number of larger-than-life characters in this story, but they all managed to work together incredibly well to make the production high-energy and fun to watch, rather than seeming like they're trying to one-up each other. One somewhat odd choice was to have Justin Pimental play both Holly's love interest Rusty, and then also the doctor who treats her after her brother dies because that requires him to jilt her romantically and then rush to her aid within a five minute span.
There's a disclaimer at the beginning of the play that this script is based on the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's rather than the movie, which means it's primarily the story of Fred and not Holly. Having seen this production, it's hard to imagine the story any other way. This is an immersive night of theatre that leaves the viewer feeling sad, hopeful and nostalgic for experiences and friends we never actually knew.
Breakfast at Tiffany's runs June 30 thru July 23 at 2nd Story Theatre 28 Market Street Warren, Rhode Island 02885. Ticket Pricing Regular Performance: $35 Preview Performance: $20 (online) Preview Performance: $25 (phone/in-person)
Under 25: $25. Tickets at 2ndstorytheatre.com or by calling 401 247 4200