BILLY Crystal is back on Broadway, and he’s bringing big laughs and a whole lot of heart to the new musical, Mr. Saturday Night.
So hurry and get your tickets for whatever night of the week they are still available.
Thirty years ago Crystal wrote, alongside Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and starred in the movie version of Mr. Saturday Night.
Now, the award-winning comedian, alongside his original co-screenwriters, has adapted it for the stage, this time as a musical, with a score by Jason Robert Brown and Amanda Green.
Crystal also sat in the director’s chair for the 1992 movie, but now John Rando is at the helm.
The story is the same. It’s the early 90’s in New York City. Crystal plays washed-up comedian, Buddy Young Jr. Once a star from the golden age of television, these days he plays senior citizen homes.
Buddy’s not exactly the Father Knows Best-type either. Buddy and his daughter, Susan (Shoshana Bean), have a contentious relationship, and he’s estranged from his brother, Stan (David Paymer, reprising his movie role).
But that all changes when The Emmy Awards accidentally add Buddy to their “In Memoriam” segment.
The gaffe turns into an opportunity for Buddy to revive his career, with the help of his new agent Annie Wells (Chasten Harmon), and maybe even make things right with his family.
In the movie, a then forty-something Crystal was aged with makeup and prosthetics for the decades-long story.
Back on the boards for the first time in about nine years, the 74-year-old song and dance funny man is doing it all with just a handful of wig changes.
Crystal sings eight numbers in the show, and it’s wonderful, hilarious and humbling to watch him work.
Audiences may be familiar with his musical medley performances as a nine-time host of the Academy Awards.
But on Broadway, he proves he’s got real pipes (take the Act 1 finale, “Unbelievable”) and can keep up with Ellenore Scott’s choreography.
Backing Billy up on stage is also a stellar supporting cast, led by the aforementioned David Paymer.
Tony Award-winner (City of Angels) Randy Graff is Buddy’s devoted wife, Elaine.
Wicked’s Shoshana Bean belts out challenging numbers such as “There’s A Chance” and “Maybe It Starts With Me” with ease.
Mr. Saturday Night is a small show compared to recent Broadway spectacles such as The Music Man or last season’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Moulin Rouge.
But in spending a night with Billy Crystal, you’re truly seeing one of entertainment’s biggest stars - one who deeply loves this story.
Early into the show, Buddy sings that he wants to bring audiences “a little joy” when he hits the stage. You will get so much more to see him in Mr. Saturday Night.
Mr. Saturday Night is playing now at the Nederlander Theatre.