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Off Broadway

I Spy A Spy Brings The Cold War Back

I Spy A Spy Brings The Cold War Back

In an age of ICE I Spy A Spy opening tonight at Theatre at St. Clement’s brings heart, a socio-political immigrant storyline and one fabulous performer in the name of Andrew Mayer. Yes, Mr. Mayer, we see you! Playing José Rodriguez, an undocumented Mexican worker, Jose longs to be an actor, but instead works three jobs, one as the Statue of Liberty in Times Square. Longing to be seen, he is ignored by society. Mr. Mayer brings to mind a young Lin Manuel Miranda.

Andrew Mayer and cast. Photo by Russ Rowland.

Jose is in love with an undercover Russian spy Alina Orlova (a lackluster performance by Emma Degerstedt), whose father Cold Borscht (Bruce Warren, in a hysterical performance) wants her to follow in the family business of spying. Alina who doesn’t want to be seen, is seen by everybody. She is desperate to become a spy like her father, so a russian hacker (John Wascavage), will not deport them to Siberia.

Bruce Warren, John Wascavage Photo by Russ Rowland

Jose works for two deli owners Korean Sunny Park (Hazel Anne Raymond), and Pakistani Abdul Mahkddom (Sorab Wadia, also very funny), who continuously spy on each other instead of dealing with their mutual attraction, which ends with them in hot water.

Andrew Mayer and cast Photo by Russ Rowland

To convolute matters is Prisciliana Espinoza (Nicole Paloma Sarro) a Mexican coyote who is extorting enormous amounts of money for helping Jose get to America. When Alina instead of Jose wins the new face of New York, Prisciliana kidnaps and blackmails Alina telling her to sell her “Natural Assets”.

Andrew Mayer. Photo by Russ Rowland

In order to help Alina, Jose, due to his not being seen, ends up the perfect spy and becomes an American citizen. All’s well that ends well.

Set in Hell’s Kitchen during the summer of 2019, it would have made more sense, if Jamie Jackson (book and lyrics) and SoHee Youn (book and music) had set I Spy A Spy in the 40’s or 50’s during the cold war. If so they could have played off the musical influence and film noir aspects. Many of the jokes set in the present, just seem PC incorrect or insensitive. Calling women “Fresh Meat” or telling anyone to sell their bodies for cash is a little crass.

Grace Choi, Sorab Wadia, Hazel Anne Raymond, Lawerence Street Photo by Russ Rowland.

In terms of music the best song is “Only A Russian” which brings to mind Silk Stockings. Most of the songs are generic, yet perky.

Emma Degerstedt and Andrew Mayer. Photo by Russ Rowland.

Bill Castellino’s direction and choreography, as well as the musical direction by Dan Pardo, keeps this 2 hour and 20 minute show moving and well sung.

James Morgan’s cartoonish set keep the fun in the show and it is a shame the writers did not follow his lead.

I Spy A Spy is lite summer fare with talent in Mayer, Warren and Wadia that is worth checking out.

I Spy A Spy: The Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th St. until Sept. 21st.

Off Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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