I Promise You’ll Like Promises, Promises

April 22, 2010



This musical is a barrel of fun the old Broadway way: a good love story, lots of ripe misunderstandings, the triumph of a nebish. Right from the start I liked Rob Ashford’s staging. Men in suits chugged in a goofy way (looking for a brief instant like Matthew Bourne’s male swans). Office girls dipped into penché and hooked a foot to a swirling coat rack. Office workers trucked across the floor, poking their heads out like pigeons.

Sean Hayes (of Will and Grace) was just terrific. He stumbled with perfect timing, appealed to us in the audience as though we were his confidantes, and missed all the cues of indifference from the girl he loved. His physical comedy creeps up on you. Sliding on the boss’s slick chair so cluelessly that he got trapped in it, sloshing on a bar stool so gamely that we almost thought he was finally having a good time, he won our laughs and our hearts. And Katie Finneran, his fellow desperado in an owl jacket, gave a performance worthy of…oh, Sophie Tucker, or Bette Midler.

There were also some smashing dancers. Megan Sikora, in “Turkey Lurkey Time,” reminded me of Gwen Verdon: A sharp, punchy mover who spiked her sexiness with humor. Tall, rangy Ryan Watkinson played a disheveled worker just on the edge of losing control.

Everyone likes those Burt Bacharach standards like “A House Is Not a Home” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” The familiarity made us hum along, and Kristin Chenoweth sang them with conviction. But the physical comedy is what won the day.

I saw a preview; the show opens on Sunday at The Broadway Theatre.



Pictured: Sean Hayes and Katie Finneran, courtesy
Promises, Promises.