If you watched and enjoyed the sleek, brash, man-hungry Samantha Jones in HBO’s “Sex and the City,” you might be interested in seeing actress Kim Cantrell. My erudite 28-year-old grandson Zachary and his lovely Lindsay saw the actress in person when she was performing in London. They even got close enough to get their picture taken with her. I didn’t get that close when I recently saw her starring in a Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s timeless 1930 comedy “Private Lives.” The play centers on a divorced couple who meet again while each is honeymooning with a new mate. Happily I can report that Ms. Cantrell, who is still beautiful to look at and in great shape, is also a brilliant comedienne. Her talents require verbal comedy, physical comedy, even a fight scene, and a fox trot. Frankly, how she and her handsome co-star Paul Gross manager their constant lover’s tiffs eight shows a week amazes me. In spite of all that, I found the witty and fast-paced show fifteen minutes too long. Cantrell and Gross reminded me of Carole Lombard and Cary Grant; if you’re old enough to know those names, you get the idea. “Private Lives” is playing at the Music Box, a theater built in 1921 by Irving Berlin and Sam Harris. Importantly, the ladies’ room, very modern and clean, contains enough johns to accommodate all the females during intermission. You might laugh, but that was a most pleasant plus for me.
Ever since I watched the sitcom “Cheers,” I’ve been a fan of actor Ted Danson. First I enjoyed his character Sam Malone, then Dr. John Becker in the series “Becker.” Also he has a small recurring role – and I wish it were longer – on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Happily, in the HBO comedy series “Bored to Death,” Danson plays George Christopher, a hapless sage conceived as an amalgam of legendary New York journalists. The show’s creator, Jonathan Ames, sketched George’s persona from the life of famous journalists. Mr. Ames also gave Ted Danson’s character a sage-like quality: he’s a garrulous, charming, world-weary, romantic, hard-drinking, wise rascal. He looks distinguished and serious but he’s funny as hell. Jonathan Ames, inspired by detective stories, created a well-meaning but struggling writer who decides to lead a sort of double life by pretending to be a private detective. “Bored to Death,” as I see it, is the new “Sex and the City” for guys. Its three main characters, Jonathan Ames, George Christopher, and Ray Hueson, are there for each other come hell or high water. I like that! Although my astute friend does not agree with me, I find “Bored to Death” fun to watch. It’s nice to see that late in his career, Ted Danson runs wild with his part and is aging so gracefully.
What do you do when you purchase theater tickets before a show has opened because you are a fan of its star and then it opens and it’s slammed by all the critics? But there’s no going back so you decide that you’ll make up your own mind and try not to be influenced by the bad reviews. After seeing “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” I was sorry I hadn’t listened to the negative critiques. Sitting in the front row center, I was able to peer into the wonderful 17-piece orchestra (don’t know how they kept from feeling claustrophobic) and close enough to almost touch the multi-talented lead actor. Well, I felt short-changed as an admirer of its star, Harry Connick Jr. I kept expecting the charismatic actor to show up in his usual piano-playing romantic mode. For this convoluted semi-revival version of the 1965 musical, he’s been turned into a grieving widower and a self-doubting Freudian – and I was changed into a grieving fan. The star never touches an ivory key. This “On a Clear Day” is more like a new, fluffy, muddled musical than a revival. Its over-complicated weird plotting that has no resolution left me underwhelmed. A few lovely songs by Burton Lane and Alan J. Lerner, “Too Late Now,” “Come Back to Me,” and of course “On a Clear Day,” still couldn’t make the quirky plot sing. If I could communicate with Harry Connick Jr., a man of many talents, I would tell him to use them and “come back to me.” And please, stay away from musicals that are doomed at rebirth.
You can e-mail June Sturz at firstname.lastname@example.org.