Carl Reiner’s book, Joseph Stein script and Stan Daniels score for Enter Laughing is delightfully hysterical and really well written. Now at the York Theatre Company, their first show in their 50th Anniversary season, they have revived this show after a sold out production in 2008.
The show follows David Kolowitz (Chris Dwan), a 17-year-old stage-struck delivery boy from the Bronx who dreams of stardom. Thanks to David’s best friend Marvin (Joe Veale), David gets his first audition. David is a horrible actor, reading stage direction, as if it is dialogue. He annoys the narcissistic director Mr. Marlowe (David Schramm) who is more of a ham. He continues to do so, as he is asked enter laughing, David launches into a series of fake laughs, that would try even the most seasoned of professionals. David is awkward, adorable and with Dwan portraying him, great at comedy.
David gets the part because the directors daughter Angela Marlowe (Farrah Alvin) has fallen for him, despite the fact he has a girlfriend Wanda (Allie Trimm) and has the hots for Miss B (Dana Costello). After all he is 17.
In the meantime he has to lie to his boss Mr. Forman (Ray DeMattis) and his parents Emma (Alison Fraser) and Morris (Robert Picardo) who want David to be a druggist.
Old film stars names are dropped at an alarming rate, such as Bette Davis, especially in the lyrically brilliant “The Butler’s Song”.
No, next Friday is out of the question,
Cancellations are simply unknown.
There’s Miss Dietrich and then it is time for Miss Bennett,
No Constance, on Tuesday it’s Joan.
No, next Wednesday you haven’t a hope, Miss,
He schtoops Sylvia Sidney at four.
Then Mae Murray, Mae Clarke,
And then after it’s dark,
With Lamour and Lamarr it’s amour.
Then as usual, just as a nightcap,
It’s Dolores Del Rio on call.
Enter Laughing is David’s fantasy of stardom, as well as his fantasies of sexual prowess. Is it outdated and PC incorrect…..yes! Is it charming, delightful and worth seeing…..and even bigger YES.
This cast is all multitalented and each one gets their own “I want song”. I am surprised these numbers are not on the cabaret circuit, as they are wonderfully comedic and if done well, as they are here, showpieces. I absolutely adored Farah Alvin’s performance of “The Man I Love”. Alvin straddled the piano and clings to it, as it became the man she desperately wants. The women in the show get the rousing “Men” lead by Ms. Trimm. Of course we have the brilliant “The Butler’s Song”, done with panache by Mr. Schramm and the fun “Hot Cha Cha” done with flair by Mr. DeMattis and Mr. Picardo. Rounding out the cast is a talented Magnes Jamo.
Stuart Ross, also directed the 2008 version, keeps this piece on its toes and makes us fall in love with old fashion. Jennifer Paulson-Lee’s minimal dance routines, help enhance our enjoyment.
The York artistic director James Morgan designed a set using period posters and has a really fun cameo in the show. Make sure you check out the lobby where Mr. Morgan has created famous movie posters that all feature David Kolowitz’s name in the credits, with his face in the photographs.
Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz’s lighting design and Tyler M. Holland’s costumes are theatrically worthy and again make this show a must see.
Enter Laughing is a breath of fresh air, despite it’s old world mark on the past. But mark my words Chris Dwan, is a find and a star on the rise. There are so many reasons to see this show, but Mr Dwan is definitely one of them.
Enter Laughing: The York Theatre Company, at St Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue, through June 23rd.