Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Crossing DelanceyThe Players Centre for the Performing Arts
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Jungle Book


Lauren Ward and Sandra Musicante
Photo by Donald J. Daly
To open Summer Sizzler 2018, The Players Centre for the Performing Arts offers Susan Sandler's Crossing Delancey, a light romantic comedy that I have managed to avoid for many years, even though it turns up regularly wherever I am.

My expectations proved pretty much on point, more caricature than emotionally rich characters, yet really engaging acting can bring this story to life. The story revolves around Izzy (Isabelle), late twenties, unmarried, Jewish. Her Bubbie (grandmother) wants to use a matchmaker to fix her up with a nice Jewish man, but she has an eye for a not terribly successful author. In the second act, Izzy has begun to see the merits of the matchmaker's choice, but when her author, heretofore immune to her charms, asks her out for a drink/date, she accepts, leaving her other suitor waiting. It is this action that distances me from the character. With few insights into human emotions, the play doesn't speak strongly to me.

Most of the acting wins the audience over. Sandra Musicante is a complete delight as Bubbie (also assistant to the director). I guess it's not a huge leap from Italian matriarch to Jewish Bubbie. Opposite her, the usually very effective Lauren Ward doesn't win my heart this time out. Partly, I am put off by a hideous Amy Irving (she played the part in a movie version) wig and a very drab, unchanging outfit that finally gets replaced part way through the second act. I also don't find the character believable; a young woman so solicitous of her grandmother that she visits weekly without fail would leave a date waiting while she switches gears to share a drink with someone else? Here is wishing more sympathetic roles for this valued actress. Trudie Kessler catches the Yiddishkeit of Hannah, the matchmaker. Jeff Cima projects a fair amount of the warmth of Sam, a pickle vendor, and Joshua Brin is properly unctuous as Tyler, the writer.

Carole Kleinberg does her usual fine job directing—missing the inherent Jewish rhythms of this play would be a disaster. The effective set design is by Jeffrey Webber and it is well lit by Patrick Bedell. Tim Betley's costumes are more problematic. My guess is that much of what is seen on stage is from the actor's personal wardrobe, due to budget constraints, and it is hit and miss—fine for some characters, not so much for others. My wish is for a few extra dollars to bring things up a notch.

Next up at Summer Sizzler is a revue called Tops from Flops, opening July 11, based on a concept by Cantor Risselle Bain, with songs from flop musicals that became hits.

Crossing Delancey, through June 24, 2018, at The Players Centre for the Performing Arts, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. Box Office: 941-365-2494. For more information visit www.theplayers.org.

Cast:
Izzy: Lauren Ward
Bubbie: Sandra Musicante
Sam: Jeff Cima
Hannah: Trudie Kessler
Tyler: Joshua Brin


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