The Performers - Fan Service and Perfectly Fine

Sometimes you just got to hand it to a show for giving an audience what they secretly (or not-so-secretly) would like to see in a show. In no particular order - Cheyenne Jackson, comedy, Cheyenne Jackson's thighs, something else, Cheyenne Jackson's face. Something with Cheyenne Jackson. Or how about some Cheyenne Jackson?

Did I mention Cheyenne Jackson?

It Happened...This is Real.
Unsurprisingly, we got hit with a gift of a lifetime - a whole ten-minute opener of The Performers, now open at the Longacre Theater. In what I can only describe as a, "HERE HE IS GALS AND GAYS" moment, the show opens with Cheyenne (totes on a first name basis, because he's Cheyenne), sporting a brown leather brief and going into animated detail about his performance in a new porno he starred in, called "Planet of the Tits" (of course). Why? His character, Mandrew (of course), is in Las Vegas for the Adult Film Awards (of course), for which he is nominated for the night's top honor, while being interviewed for a story to be written by his old high school chum.

But this was no ordinary interview...and I would know; I coordinate them on a daily basis. Mandrew starts thrusting and air-humping with a straight face (of course) and because that's a little too...subtle (?), he ditches his already revealing attire for - drumroll please - a pair of form-fitting (understatement) Superman briefs (of course) and proceeds to do push-ups (of course).

Any complaints? Anyone? Anyone? Thought so. All anonymous complaints can be sent to CheyenneIsHardCoreFanService@YourArgumentIsInvalid.com.

Oh, what a glorious and laugh-out-loud entertaining opener. And while the Mandrew "exposure" never makes a recurring appearance, The Performers has other hearty joys to serve up, mostly one-liners and raunch comedy. Both are welcome sights indeed because the storyline - which revolves around several couple's relationships on the night of the adult film awards ceremony - is one-dimensional to the max. The fact that they didn't even try for story or (relatively any) character development, a detail they seem to be aware of and pretty open about, is kind of funny.

But I guess that would be my biggest takeaway of the show, and it is both good and bad. The show doesn't have any ambition and lends itself to a Judd Apatow or Todd Phillips (The Hangover) style of film. In this context, I don't see that as a good thing. Subjective, I know, but I feel like the mediums of theater and film should be kept separate and this CLEARLY has a "movie repurposed for the stage" feel, if not simply a "this works better as a film" air about it.

Having said that, it is mindless, entertainment and pretty fun to boot. And there is an audience for that despite any initial objections. But ask around and the theater-going community seems to be more The Lyons or One ManTwo Guvners - you know, something with a little bit more wit and thought to it. But hey, I can turn my brain off and enjoy the fun and fanservice. In fact, I did just that.

In addition to the Cheyenne, we're treated to a really great performance from Ari Graynor, as Mandrew's porn star wife. The show really lies with the two of them as they are, by far, the only ones really generating consistent laughter. Graynor especially, as she delves into long-winded diatribes and cutting one-liners, while Cheyenne's a perfect counter with his character's oblivious stupidity and earnest line deliveries. The same can't be said for the rest of the ensemble, including the underwhelming (but anti-aging) Alicia Silverstone and the equally out-of-place Henry Winkler. They are given a little too much time to play off the other characters and wind up watching the show rather then being apart of it.

I'm totally fine with The Performers and don't hold any serious reservations about it. It achieves what it sets out to do, even if it is only to provide comedic entertainment. Who am I to complain? I had a good time, laughed a lot and got to see Cheyenne Jackson in the flesh hamming it up and thrusting and cavorting around barely clothed. What did you do today (or most days) that was so much better?


Photo Credits: Carol Rossegg

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