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1/17/15

Honeymoon in Veg- Uh, No. Just Stop.

Let’s get the good aspects about Honeymoon in Vegas out of the way (because this won’t take very long). Brynn O’Malley is excellent at a nothing part. In fact, she’s so darn on-point, you can still see what she has to offer as a performer even with a show that is trying to hold her back. She will not be contained Honeymoon in Vegas, so stop trying.

I also love Rob McClure. He’s not the best singer I’ve ever heard and he can’t exactly project to the back row (although to be fair, there was some audio issues at the performance I attended), but when McClure is on stage, he is chirpy and entertaining. He even makes his character’s self-loathing tolerable. Like O'Malley, this show is doing him no favors, but his natural talent comes across anyways.

The rest of the show? No and thank you. Now open at the Nederlander Theatre, Honeymoon in Vegas has an astonishingly high level of problems. Probably because it’s out-of-town tryout had a lot of smoke inexplicably blown up its ass.

Like Jason Robert Brown’s score? It has its moments, but who, the fuck, thought the “takes himself so seriously” JRB could compose something for such a old-fashioned farce? I guess the show was hoping to get another 13 out of him, which…okay, modest expectations at best, but hasn’t it long been established that JRB is best left doing The Last Five Years and The Bridges of Madison County and Parade-esque styles of musicals? He’s clearly miscast (mis-composed?) for the show as the memorability of his tracks dry up after McClure’s Jack and O’Malley’s Betsy have their “let’s establish our characters for the audience” songs a few minutes into the show.

It’s the story, you guys…I know there is "checking your brain at the door,” low-brow humor and hoary rom-com plot devices that can translate into something worthwhile. But not only is that the entirety of Honeymoon in Vegas’ story, it did not sit well with me as Andrew Bergman’s book tries to wave off racism and MAJOR sexism as a hilarious comedy schtick. Are we, as an audience, supposed to dumb down our intellect and expectations (and 2015 moral codes) to tolerate this crap? Because I’m most certainly not.

And look, I know this has been a shitty week for women who love theatre and Honeymoon isn’t the first show to have an awfully retrograde approach to gender roles…but yeah, there was a lot of sexist bullshit on display, which has been already pointed out by reputable, intelligent women. Ahem...

We have our lead female Betsy, a teacher who wants to be a wife and a mom. I mean, what else would she be? She is treated like property in her fiancé Jack’s negotiations as he pawns her off to a stranger he just met hours earlier just to pay off his gambling debt. While whisked away to Hawaii, Betsy consumes some alcohol and she’s willing to marry anything that moves, including the man that ‘bought’ her whom is several decades older then her. And by the way, the reason why he pursued her so aggressively in the first place is because Betsy looks like his dead wife. That’s not creepy at all. Spoiler alert: Betsy gets back together with Jack at the end because…reasons. Womenhood!

There is also the overbearing and selfish Jewish mom who curses/guilts her son into never marrying anyone, because she would perceive that as an act of betrayal. I’ll just leave that there with no further commentary. We have an Hawaiian henchwoman who’s total existence is…to have sex with Jack in order to distract him from finding Betsy. Again, no further commentary. And lastly, we have the scantily clad Vegas showgirls and dancers. Because women.

Hey, does anyone remember when Jason Robert Brown gave a pro-women acceptance speech last June as he scored two Tonys for The Bridges of Madison County? Well, okay then! Hope Honeymoon in Vegas pays well Jason because your "I Heart Women" campaign just got reduced to dust.

I could understand producers (and creative teams) wanting to adapt a story that has some commercial appeal or audience appeal or…something. But who, THE FUCK, thought THIS needs to occupy a theatre house? I’m no film historian by any means, but in my entire 25 years of existence, I don’t think I’ve heard any one person sing the praises of Honeymoon in Vegas' existence and it wasn’t exactly a box office smash (it’s claim-to-fame is two Golden Globe nominations). I ask again, who thought this would be a good fit for Broadway or a commercial success? As of now, it’s definitely not the latter. But my worst nightmare is coming true and it may stick around a little bit longer because...Surprise, Surprise…Ben Brantley loved it. So did a lot of other critics like him. Excuse me while I go hurl up my last meal. And apologize to all the women in my theatre life that Broadway is showing an outrageous amount of disrespect towards them, even though they occupy over two-thirds of audiences.


Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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