Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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NY1 Theater Review: "Golden Boy"

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The 75th anniversary production of Clifford Odets' drama "Golden Boy" has just debuted on Broadway, courtesy of Lincoln Center Theater. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

They sure don't make 'em like they used to. It is quite an experience sitting through Clifford Odets' 1937 epic drama - Golden Boy is nearly 3 hours in length featuring 19 speaking parts. For my part, I found it thoroughly engaging.

Sure, Odets' play about a boxer with artistic talent is melodramatic and overwritten but how refreshing to see characters - even the stereotyped ones - portrayed with such depth and nuance. And best of all - here we are 75 years later and Odets' themes still hit home.

Odets was working in Hollywood when he penned Golden Boy. Best known for his socially conscious dramas, he was now wrestling with that age old dilemma between art and commerce. That was likely on his mind when he wrote about a young violin prodigy who also had a talent in the ring. Young Joe Bonaparte struggles mightily with the forces of fame-and-fortune versus his heart which, though he denies it, is clearly yearning to make music.

Director Bartlett Sher again brings his considerable talents to the tragedy, complementing Odets' hyped up dialogue with an intense fast paced production. The technical elements integrate beautifully and the fight choreography particularly impressive.

A fine ensemble rounds out the card. Danny Mastrogiorgio and Yvonne Strahovski settle very nicely into their roles as excitable boxing manager Moody and his girlfriend Lorna. Anthony Crivello has all the right moves as mobster Eddie Fuseli. Danny Burstein finds great warmth as trainer Tokio. As Joe, Seth Numrich, fighting opponents and personal demons alike, displays remarkable finesse. And Tony Shalhoub takes all the cliches out of Joe's heavily accented Italian father and turns him into a a very real and noble character.

For all its excesses, Golden Boy must be declared a winner. Lincoln Center's corker of a production packs quite a punch.

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