Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

A Terrific Production of Buyer & Cellar
Curran Theatre

Also see Richard's review of Motown the Musical

Michael Urie
Michael Urie is fine, funny and fabulous as wannabe actor Alex Moore who gets a job as custodian and clerk of the basement of Barbra Streisand's fabled estate. In Buyer & Cellar, the famed movie star has designed an arcade of little village shops in which she stores a collection of dolls, dresses and toys accumulated over her lifetime. Alex also minds the yogurt and popcorn machines in the cellar. He tells the audience that the basement "looks as if my Grandma designed an Apple Store." Alex has taken the job after being fired from Disneyland, which he calls "Mauschwitz." An impressive performer with the ability to command compassion and tell a story, Urie takes the audience through a rapid-fire, emotionally charged interaction between employee and star.

In the touring production currently playing the Curran, Michael Urie enters the stage in a casual outfit and tells the audience that the following presentation is a work of fiction. He says that this could not possibly have happened with a person as famous, talented and litigious as Barbra Streisand. As Alex, he tells the audience that he is not that big a Barbra queen and not into Judy Garland either. However, as he spends time in the basement and in talking to the famous actress, he falls for his boss. He starts to see her as a regular person who has apprehensions and anxieties despite all her money and success. She shares with Alex her growing up in poverty as a "second hand rose" in Brooklyn. She complains that her only doll was a dressed-up hot water bottle. Now, as a poor little rich girl, no one pops into this neighborhood.

One of the highlights in this charming play is "Barbra" wanting to "buy" (obviously play acting) a sentimental doll from her own collection. Boldly but delightfully, Alex insists on the original price of $850 but, finally, the movie star presents a self-made coupon, as the bizarrely penurious Barbra brings the price down to $500.

Buyer & Cellar is a puerile and hilarious 100-minute play, but it is surprisingly sweet and poignant. Written by Jonathan Tolins, it's a smart and clever play. Michael Urie does not actually impersonate Streisand but merely suggests her to fit the purpose of the story. He not only plays Alex but Barbra, James Brolin, Alex's boyfriend Barry, and several others to a tee.

Buyer & Cellar plays through August 31st, 2014, at the Curran Theatre. 445 Geary Street, San Francisco. For schedule and tickets call 888-746-1799 or visit For more information on the tour, visit

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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