Jean Kerr's MARY, MARY -- Anyone see it on Broadway?
Last Edit: BroadwayTonyJ 11:28 am EDT 07/13/21
Posted by: BroadwayTonyJ 11:18 am EDT 07/13/21

The play was a huge hit on Broadway, ran for over 3 years, but has never been revived. I saw the film version as a young teen in '63 and recall it being enjoyable. I tried watching it on cable TV some years ago, but turned it off after 20 minutes because I didn't find it funny. It DVR'd it off TCM a few days ago to give it a second chance.

Very stagy, too long, and set almost entirely in Barry Nelson's apartment. Nevertheless, some very funny, witty dialogue.

Hiram Sherman (a replacement in the Broadway production) is great and gets a laugh every time he opens his mouth. Nelson was mostly a theatre and TV actor, but had a number of featured roles in films beginning in the late 30's. He starred as Bob McKellaway on Broadway and played him again in the film. He's fine and also manages to deliver the laughs. Michael Rennie (another alumnus from Broadway) is surprisingly good in a rare (for him) light comedy role.

And then there's Debbie Reynolds, who was big box office at the time. She's bright, perky, looks quite pretty, and is beautifully costumed. She does have some fine moments in the more romantic, tender scenes. However, when it comes to delivering Kerr's great comic lines, she just doesn't get the laughs that Barbara Bel Geddes must have nailed on stage.

Decades later in films and TV like Mother, In & Out, and Will & Grace, Reynolds was certainly able to deliver the laughs in comic roles, but in '63 she just didn't have the chops. I wonder if someone like Shirley MacLaine, Janet Leigh, or even Audrey Hepburn would have made Mary, Mary work better as a movie.

Did anyone here see it on Broadway or in regional theatre? I assume it was pretty popular in the 60's.

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