BWW Reviews: Funny and Touching BUYER & CELLAR by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Playwright Jonathan Tolins uses Barbra Streisand's book My Passion for Design as a jumping off point for his hilarious one man show Buyer & Cellar. It's a fun-filled romp that fans of the lady with the magnificent voice, and questionable temperament, will find absolutely delightful. Even if you're not a fan, you'll enjoy this peek inside the peculiarities that are a part of this showbiz icon's lifestyle. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has fashioned a very enjoyable production that has been so popular that the run has been extended twice. See it for yourself and you'll know why. It's an amusing and often belly laugh inducing work that you should make every effort to check out!
Though this a work of fiction, one wonders how close to the bone some of this material cuts. What we have is a particular point of view presented by struggling actor Alex More, who has taken on the responsibility of being the caretaker for Barbra's enormous collection, which fills the basement of a barn, and is organized into a little shopping plaza complete with specialty shops that contain items the star has collected over the course of her career. This odd occupation allows him to interact with the woman herself, and though most of these encounters produce their fair share of laughter, some are more sensitive and revealing in other ways.
Jeremy Webb does outstanding work as Alex, but this being a one man show, he also gets the opportunity to portray his persnickety boyfriend Barry, who's an estate manager, as well as Streisand's husband James Brolin, the ubiquitous Oprah Winfrey, Arthur Laurents (famed playwright, screenwriter and director), Bea Arthur, and of course, Barbra herself. It is truly a tour de force performance, and it will leave you in stitches. Webb also nicely handles some moments of poignancy that arrive unexpectedly here and there over the course of a little over an hour and a half.
Wendy Dann's direction is neatly crafted, and she makes the most of the material while drawing a bravura performance from Webb. Steve TenEyck handles the lighting and simple, but effective, scenic design, both of which keep our attention firmly focused on Webb's antics. Marci Franklin provides the costume design, while Rusty Wandall contributes another fine sound design.
Buyer & Cellar is an entertaining excursion into the world of celebrity, and since the run has been extended to April 12, 2015, you have absolutely no excuse not to catch this fabulous show. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis closes their Studio Theatre season with a real winner!
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.