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NY1 Theater Review: Billy Crystal’s ‘700 Sundays’

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Celebrated comedian Billy Crystal brought his one-man show, “700 Sundays,” back to Broadway. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

If laughter, as they say, is the best medicine then Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays" qualifies as a cure-all.

Amazingly, after touring with his autobiographical one man show since debuting on Broadway 9 years ago, Crystal is back at the age of 65, fresh and vigorous as ever.

It's virtually the very same show that opened in December of '04 but he's added some topical references such as Obamacare and Rand Paul. Crystal, unlike so many of his comedian peers, grew up in a stable and loving home and that's where he draws most of his material. His Jewish family, his father's career promoting jazz and Billy's love of baseball formed the roots of his humor.

His gift as a comedian is finding the universal within the specific. When he describes the nutty qualities of individual relatives, we can easily identify with characters from our own experience, no matter the ethnic or class differences.

Crystal's experience is a deeply American one. Fittingly, he starts by describing his earliest memories of the family car. Thanks to his dad's home movies and Billy's brilliant timing, he spins hysterically funny tales of growing up in his modest Long Beach, Long Island home.

For a little over an hour in Act 1, Crystal has the audience convulsing with laughter.

Act 2 reverses gear and Crystal turns serious as he takes us through the ordeal of losing both parents and other personal setbacks. Not too much humor there, but "700 Sundays" which refers to the number of Sundays Billy was able to spend with his beloved father, is guaranteed to produce tears marking both joy and sadness.

Be warned, the show is long, about two-and-a-half hours. If it seems indulgent, it's a remarkable testament to Crystal's talent that he's able to turn an unspectacular middle class upbringing into affectionately entertaining theatre of the highest order.

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