LATHAM — Need a light-hearted night out? Then get to Curtain Call sometime in the next two weeks to see "Buyer and Cellar." Here are five reasons why you’ll be glad you did:
The premise of the story is hysterical. Out-of-work actor Alex (Kris Anderson) learns of an odd gig at the Malibu home of Barbra Streisand. La Streisand has outfitted her basement with a main street of shops (or, as Alex notes, “shoppes”), each of which holds one of her collections, like dolls or clothing, items she has accumulated over her lifetime. Occasionally she goes below stairs to shop, despite the fact that she owns everything already. Alex’s job is to manage the shops and be ready when she comes down to browse and, perhaps, purchase. Oh — and she is the only customer. Wacky, right?
The text could simply be a send-up of a superstar, but playwright Jonathan Tolins sagely colors the text with allusions to Barbra’s past that might explain why the cellar idea is psychologically important. Alex says at the outset that this is not entirely a true story, but Tolins sprinkles facts throughout — her three husbands, the death of her father when Streisand was very young, her singular looks — that give Barbra dimension and mitigate her cartoonishness.
The spot-on tech work of the Curtain Call crew is apparent yet again. There is no cellar, stuffed to the gills. Instead, there are only a chair and a table, a low bench, and two crystal chandeliers, courtesy of Frank Oliva. Lighting (Kelley Shih) and sound design (Alex Dietz-Kest) help create the environment. Jeremy Ward is the stage manager.
And the whole 75-minute script is in the capable hands of Kris Anderson. This excellent actor had pages and pages of dialogue in “The Normal Heart,” just a couple of months ago. Here, he has a monologue of enormous proportions. But he’s not just a guy saying words; he’s an actor, under the watchful eye of director (and funny lady herself) Carol Max, playing a young gay actor in the role of a lifetime; and playing Barry, Alex’s hyped-up, neurotic boyfriend; and playing James Brolin, BS’s husband; and playing Sharon, Barbra’s aide-de-camp, sort of like Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein," and, of course, the enigmatic, smart, fragile, and commanding Babs herself. Anderson has the voices and gestures to bring each of these characters to sparkling life, and the story — both the riotous and touching moments -- pours out of him with confidence and precision. A tour-de-force performance.
Finally, the show nicely reminds us of what theater is all about anyway: make-believe. In that regard, it is even metatheatrical: Alex breaks the fourth wall. Then Anderson, with the plainest tools of the trade — his voice and his body — creates a whole world. I’d say it’s the perfect script for Curtain Call to close down this playhouse before the move to new digs just up the road.
'Buyer and Cellar'
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Rd., Latham
WHEN: Thursdays through Sundays, through Aug. 5
HOW MUCH: $24
MORE INFO: 877-7529 or curtaincalltheatre.com