Theater review: Alliance back on the road with ‘Crossing Delancey’


In case you hadn’t already heard, the Alliance Theatre is taking its show(s) on the road this season, staging each of its 2017-18 productions at various different venues in and around Atlanta. (The company is renovating its own space at the Woodruff Arts Center, which is scheduled to reopen next fall, just in time to mark the group’s 50th-anniversary season.)

RELATED: Alliance Theatre will scatter 2017-2018 shows around metro area

One of the biggest pleasures about the Alliance’s recent “Shakespeare in Love” was how the show enabled a reunion and homecoming of sorts for former Georgia Shakespeare artistic director Richard Garner and several long-standing members of his acting ensemble — back on the boards of the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, where they had performed for many years (until the troupe folded in 2014).

In a similar fashion, seeing the Alliance’s current show, “Crossing Delancey,” at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta feels like an ideal fit. And, if you’ve been around long enough, being back there might also bring to mind fond memories of its dearly departed resident company, Jewish Theatre of the South (sadly disbanded in 2008).

Call that sentimental or nostalgic, but Susan Sandler’s sweet and slight 1985 play is like that, too. Popularized by a 1988 movie version with Amy Irving, it’s a contemporary romantic comedy about a young Jewish woman in Manhattan, Isabelle (or Izzy), who’s torn between her Lower East Side heritage and her Upper West Side aspirations.

In one corner: her feisty old grandmother, Ida (or Bubbie); a meddling “marriage broker” named Hannah; and a perfectly eligible bachelor in the kindhearted Sam, the neighborhood pickle vendor. In the other corner: a “comfortable” job at a trendy bookstore; and an objectionable object of desire in Tyler, a self-absorbed novelist who can barely remember her name.

Sandler’s plot proceeds predictably, but Toronto-based director Leora Morris’ swift and breezy pace helps. So do most of the actors. As Izzy, Sochi Fried (also based in Toronto) is quite winning in a number of charming asides to the audience (nicely accentuated by Joseph A. Futral’s lighting). At other times, though, her performance is overshadowed by the supporting characters.

The formidable Andrew Benator (True Colors’ “Race”) brings an uncommon warmth and sensitivity to the wise and trustworthy Sam. His awkward courtship with Izzy rings true, and when he opens up to her about the “hard business of getting acquainted,” Benator makes you feel his yearning.

Even in the thankless role of Tyler, how great is it to see Daniel Thomas May on stage again? Once among our best and most gainfully employed theater actors, he has lately focused his attention on film and TV (including a recurring role on “The Walking Dead”). For her part, Joanna Daniels hams it up overmuch as the manic matchmaker.

Some 25 years ago, Atlanta veteran Mary Lynn Owen played Izzy at Theatrical Outfit. Now, amazingly, the actress delivers a scene-stealing turn as the ebullient Bubbie. She’s no stranger to convincingly playing well beyond her own years (the Outfit’s “Dividing the Estate,”Aurora’s “4000 Miles”). In her brightest moment here, simply watching Owen unwrap a package is “pure gold,” indeed — even if Bubbie does say so herself.

THEATER REVIEW

“Crossing Delancey”

Through Nov. 25. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. $10-$80. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. 404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org.

Bottom line: Sweet, if slight.

RELATED: Review: To take Cirque show to next level, ‘Luzia’ adds water



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Gary Oldman on Winston Churchill: ‘He was a superman’
Gary Oldman on Winston Churchill: ‘He was a superman’

WASHINGTON — At a press tour stop in D.C. earlier this month, actor Gary Oldman — who’s been known to have somewhat, shall we say, interesting views on political correctness — actually shied away from any overt mention of politics on the red carpet for his new movie “The Darkest Hour.” Oldman, a cinematic chameleon...
Review: Denzel Washington overpowers ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’
Review: Denzel Washington overpowers ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’

Writer/director Dan Gilroy had Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington in mind when he was creating the script for “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” His instincts were right. Washington buries himself deep in the role of a savant lawyer who finds himself at a major junction in his life when his mentor dies. As Washington has done in every role he plays...
Review: Colorful, lush ‘Coco’ is a masterpiece
Review: Colorful, lush ‘Coco’ is a masterpiece

One thing’s for certain — you’re going to want to call your grandparents after seeing Pixar’s latest masterpiece “Coco.” Centered around the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), “Coco” uses the vibrant colors and style of the holiday to spin an imaginative tale rich in tradition and...
Manson’s life as a failed musician, Beach Boys hanger-on
Manson’s life as a failed musician, Beach Boys hanger-on

Starting in the 1970s, not long after Charles Manson directed his followers to murder seven people over two bloody nights in Los Angeles, the convicted killer’s music and notoriety fueled a small underground industry. The allure was centered on Manson’s only album, recorded in Los Angeles in 1967 and ‘68 and issued a year after the...
Review: ‘Christmas’ is a Dickens of a good time
Review: ‘Christmas’ is a Dickens of a good time

There have been numerous TV, film and stage adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” over the years. None have combined as much charm, warmth and holiday spirit as Bharat Nalluri’s “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” OK. Before you start shouting “Bah, humbug,” this technically isn’t a...
More Stories