Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre has dubbed this event a “pop-up” production and quite honestly, if they wanted to keep this show going, Buyer & Cellar starring the inimitable Kevin Broccoli and handsomely directed by Lara Hakeem, could “pop-up” and probably sell out virtually anywhere for a long, long time.
Alas, anyone who follows local theater knows that the prospect of Kevin Broccoli on tour — or doing one show for more than a few months even – is a pipe dream. Mr. Broccoli, the (unofficial) hardest working actor/writer/director/blogger in Rhode Island is turning in a star-making performance in the one-man tour de force Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins at 2nd Story Theatre until October 25.
For those not familiar with the show, the premise is absurd to say the least – what if a beloved megastar decided to build her very own shopping mall in her basement just so she could purchase everything she desires again and again? Ridiculous, right? Well, that premise IS the truest part of the story as Barbra Streisand’s 2010 My Passion for Design coffee table book details in all it’s unintentionally hilarious detail.
Playwright Jonathan Tolins takes us on a whirlwind flight of “what-ifs” and introduces us to the young Alex, an out-of-work actor who is hired to staff the star’s impeccable collection of costumes, antique dolls and vintage tchotchkes. And to wait on the basement mall’s sole customer – Ms. Streisand herself.
Kevin Broccoli shines in the role of Alex – a part that demands not only likability and charm, but some serious acting chops as he slips in and out of the many characters that he encounters in his “basement adventure.” For the show’s hour and a half running time, Broccoli is center stage, conducting a veritable master class in comic — and sometimes dramatic — timing. Equally at home with the script’s many gags as his personifications of James Brolin and the diva herself, one must give kudos to both Broccoli and his director Lara Hakeem for their homework on staging Tolin’s dense script. The playwright has packed the evening’s tale with seemingly every gay pop culture touchstone (Mildred Pierce, Judy Garland in Summer Stock, Bea Arthur and Shirley Booth as Hazel jokes all in one play? Amazing!) yet the show doesn’t ridicule Streisand and her eccentric lifestyle, but dives under the comic façade to look deeper into what fame can and cannot buy for even the biggest and brightest of stars.
Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins, directed by Lara Hakeem and starring Kevin Broccoli continues through October 25 at 2nd Story Theatre – Down Stage, 28 Market St, Warren. Call 401-247-4200 for tickets, or online at 2ndStoryTheatre.com.