Wednesday, December 13, 2006

He Wouldn't Be Here, If Only He'd Saved More

"Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me" at the Jacobs Theatre, December 13, 2006

I've paraphrased the working title of this show for the title of this entry. Originally, the title was to have been "Martin Short: I Wouldn't Be Here If I'd Saved More."

I was hesitant to see this, but I must say I'm glad I went. It's been the most fun I've had in a Broadway theatre in weeks!

Mr. Short, supposedly following in the line of actors who have appeared in solo Broadway shows (Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Dame Edna, etc.) has brought a fun parody of that kind of show. With an original score (more on that later) by Mark Shaiman and directed by Scott Wittman, it's just the kind of entertainment, (almost a burlesque, if you will) to suit a holiday season.

I won't go through Mr. Short's resume here, but his previous Broadway outings have been recognized and quite respectable, including a Tony for "Little Me" and a nomination for the musical version of "The Goodbye Girl."

"Fame Becomes Me" however, is not quite that structured. It's a great nightclub act that should make for a killer tour - small cast of 6, simple sets, and could probably work with a truly minimal orchestra. Even though he's just announced that the show will close on January 7, 2007 and will be followed by the tour later in the year.

If you've watched Mr. Short on any of his TV outings, SCTV, SNL, Jiminy Glick, you already know what he does. There are no new surprises here. I would like to have seen a little more of Ed Grimley (I must say, of course!) than just the , but all is presented in great fun.

The real star of this show, however, is Mark Shaiman's score. He manages to evoke song styles from Judy Garland (Farmer's Daughter), to Wicked (The Lights Have Dimmed on Broadway), to Stephen Sondheim (Ba-Ba-Ba-Bu-Duh Broadway), and does it all with a loving touch. If he doesn't get a nomination for this score, something's very wrong. Mr. Shaiman also spends a good bit of time performing onstage, although he does reveal a bit more of himself than you might have asked for.

The supporting performers, "Comedy All Stars" include Brooks Ashmanskas, Mary Birdsong, Capathia Jenkins and Donna Vivino. Each of these performers display quite a range of talents. Notable moments were Ms. Birdsong as a Judy Garland-esque character and as Joan Rivers. Ms. Vivino was spot on in her moment as Sarah Jessica Parker. Mr. Ashmanskas had great fun as Mr. Short's brother, who appeared from time to time to dispute the life story that was being told in the show. And as you've probably already heard, Ms. Jenkins brings down the house in a number entitled "Stop the Show." (A great line she delivers to the rest of the cast, "You can clap along alright, but not on one and three!")

Tickets and discounts should be plentiful. I got mine through TDF and sat on the front row of the mezzanine. If you're in town over Christmas and have the time - go see it.

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