‘Plaza Suite’ by Sarah Jessica Parker is bubbly joy.
Sarah Jessica Parker at the Plaza Hotel is pure Manhattan.
The two New York City titans are forced together in Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” revival, which debuted Monday night at the Hudson Theater.
It’s a Bergdorf match.
The 1960s-set comedy, which also stars Parker’s husband Matthew Broderick, is a bright affair. And it’s better than HBO’s oddly woke and awkward “And Just Like That.” In addition, Simon’s middle-brow drama is a welcome break from our too-serious theatrical season.
Parker and Broderick portray three couples in three acts (long for today’s attention spans): A long-married couple fights as their daughter locks herself in the toilet, refusing to be married. The Plaza’s Suite 719 hosts the hijinks.
The deep first portion suited these 25-year-married actors well. While Karen plans the ideal romantic anniversary at the lavish hotel (John Lee Beatty’s set is exquisite), Sam is preoccupied with his job and only half-listens to her. With Broderick’s witty repartees, anxieties are disclosed and hope is hidden. In the show’s final moments, this is the high point.
The following segment is the worst, although it functions as a halftime show. Jesse, costumed as Austin Powers, offers Muriel vodka stingers while they flirt. He adores her because she is regular and wholesome, but she just wants to mingle with his wealthy pals.
Parker has a solid hold of Muriel’s bridge-and-tunnel perkiness. And Broderick channelling a young Peter Bogdanovich (which is weird, but that’s part of the idea).
Act III is the play’s most wildly humorous act. On her wedding day, Roy and Norma yank their daughter from the restroom. A Plaza wedding isn’t inexpensive. insults hurled, injuries sustained Roy, who meticulously records every dollar spent, is Broderick’s ideal partner. The actor’s staccato formality works nicely here, evoking Leo Bloom from “The Producers.” Also, Broderick lets free more than he has in years.
Overall, director John Benjamin Hickey’s show might be funnier. The climax isn’t as wild as it might be. Compassion for the married new stars pulls you in, despite the sense on Broadway that they were miscast (Maureen Stapleton and Walter Matthau were earlier incarnations). Carrie Bradshaw was stood up by her pals at Il Cantinori on her 35th birthday, and Parker is let down by her husband in the first act. Your heart flutters for her.
Nostalgia, one-liners and star power aren’t incorrect. Acoustic guitars and Edison lighting aren’t required in every Broadway production.