Friday, April 25, 2008

A Catered Affair (Walter Kerr Theatre)

BOTTOM LINE: Harvey Fierstein's new Broadway musical. It's touching and pretty but not very exciting...for those who enjoy a quaint, throw-back musical.

A Catered Affair is a nice, new Broadway musical starring Harvey Fierstein and Faith Prince. It's not the most dynamic piece of theatre, nor the most innovative, but it stands as a solid story with lovely music, an overall entertaining 90 minutes.

Written by Fierstein and based on a movie of the same name from 1956, A Catered Affair is the story of a wedding-gone-awry. Jane (played by Leslie Kritzer) is finally marrying long-term boyfriend Ralph (Matt Cavenaugh). The couple wants a simple wedding with a ceremony at City Hall, but both sets of parents decide they must have the full wedding she-bang. Money becomes a glaring issue as Jane's family doesn't have much and her father feels slighted being forced to pay for dinner for 200 guests, many of whom are strangers. Fierstein's character, Winston, oversees the ordeal as the generous, bachelor uncle.

The best thing A Catered Affair has going for it is a really solid cast of talented actors with powerful voices. The cast is consistently great. Faith Prince plays bitter 1950s housewife with strength and devotion through sorrow; she's fantastic and really takes charge of the stage. Actually, everyone captures their role with a great Leave It To Beaver panache (and has the vocal ability to back it up).

The second best thing going for it is the story. A Catered Affair might actually make a better play than a musical (as a whole, the music is pretty unmemorable). Watching the story unfold, I took a wholehearted interest in what was happening in these characters lives. Plus, hearing the tale of unhappy '50s housewife from the perspective of said housewife is an interesting vantage point.

If you have an affinity for old-school musical theatre, A Catered Affair might be the show for you. It's pretty and endearing but it probably won't change your life.

(A Catered Affair plays at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 West 48th Street; Mon., Wed., Thurs., Fri., and Sat. at 8pm, Tues. at 7pm, Wed. and Sat. at 2pm. The show runs 90 minutes without an intermission. For tickets click here. For more information visit

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