‘Good Night, Oscar’ Broadway Review: Sean Hayes Pays Tribute To Golden Age Second Banana

If ever a play had good reason to front-load itself with exposition, good night oscar it is. Once among America̵7;s premiere wits and raconteurs, Oscar Levant has gone the way of many other famous wits and raconteurs. Which is to say, it needs a lot of exposition.

good night oscarNew Bio-play by Doug Wright (i am my own wifestarring Sean Hayes ,will and grace) as Levant, goes a long way in introducing this very old talk-show staple to modern audiences. Whether it justifies the effort is far less certain.

A talented pianist and occasional second-banana film actor, Levant is better known today for his frequent talk and game-show appearances from the 1950s and ’60s, his knack for improvised zingers and his no-holds-barred The confessional humor made them a sought-after, if controversial, presence of the Golden Age. Others would follow in his wake—Gore Vidal and the Truman Capotes and Phyllis Newmans, but Levant was the first.

And before you ask Phyllis Who? Wright, Hayes, and director Lisa Peterson are pretty sure Levant belongs on that list, but good night oscar is less than convincing.

So here goes. Levant largely made a name for himself as a pianist who interpreted the work of his friend and musical better, George Gershwin. He made a name for himself as an actor as a wingman in films like An American in Paris, The Band Wagon And humorous, He made a name for himself as a TV personality with quirky, sophisticated late-night appearances that regaled viewers with vaguely witty quips, self-deprecating jokes about his homely looks, and candid confessions about his addictions and mental health challenges. Pleased with the revelations. He was a man forever on the verge of a nervous breakdown, one of the few personalities of the era who could make Paar look comparatively stable.

Some of his criticisms keep him alive. He’s the guy who said he knew Doris Day before she was a virgin, and that beneath all of Hollywood’s fake tinsel is real tinsel.

Such responses can, even today, make for some light entertainment thrown off a talk show couch, but strung together and passing for dialogue they make tiresome biographies. good night oscar Levant tries very hard to present himself as a kind of Lenny Bruce-in-the-making – and who knows, maybe he was – but for all the hard selling, drama Hummy Hayes as Tony fodder Intends even more to serve.

set cross most backstage tonight show, a nervous – well, more nervous than usual – waiting for Levant to make one of his popular guest appearances. This time, however, it’s different: Levant has spent the last few months committed to a mental ward, and through the truth-bending ministrations of his wife, June (Emily Bergl), the drug-addicted pianist gets a four-hour Has been given a pass. Assistant Paar (Ben Rappaport) is aware of the situation, but NBC honcho Bob Sarnoff (Peter Grosse) most certainly is not.

Before Levant fires a gulp full of tranquilizers, we know tonight Attendance is a ticking time bomb. He tells a raunchy joke about Marilyn Monroe that might still raise eyebrows today, and he talks about politics and mental problems and drugs and religion—all things Sarnoff promised him to avoid.

Throughout the play, Wright has a hallucination haunted by visits from Gershwin (John Zdrojewski), who repeatedly reminds us what this midcentury Salieri is eating. Levant vows tonight to prove he’s the great musician’s equal tonightHe will show the world how talented he really is.

So it’s more than a little awkward when Hayes finally sits down at the beautifully lit Steinway to make the case for what Levant deserves… and plays “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Topic: good night oscar
venue, broadwayBelasco Theater
Director: Lisa Peterson
Playwright: Doug Wright
mould: Sean Hayes, Emily Bergl, Merchant Davis, Peter Grosz, Ben Rappaport, Alex Wyse, John Zdrojewski
running time: 1 hour 40 minutes (no intermission)