John Tartaglia...the photo credit is....maybe I didn't make that clear.....more importantly 'Buyer & Cellar'|a CurtainUp New Jersey theater review CurtainUp

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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Buyer & Cellar

She reached out and touched me on the arm. She didn't seem sure whether to pat or squeeze, so she gave me a pat that ended with a sort of pinch, and then she pulled her hand away like she needed Purell. — Alex
Buyer & Cellar
John Tartaglia (Photo: T. Charles Erickson
This amusing and astute play for solo performer by Jonathan Tolins has had quite a remarkable journey beginning in 2013 with its limited run at the Rattlestick Theater Off Broadway and then moving for its many-times extended successful commercial run at the Barrow Street Theater. It closed last summer.

This enjoyable diversion and show-off vehicle for a talented actor is currently a popular choice for our nation's many regional theaters. Artistic Director David Saint has cast appealing, multi-talented Tony-nominated John Tartaglia (He originated the roles of Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q) as the out-of work actor who finds a temporary job as a shopkeeper, and even as a drama coach, in Barbra Streisand's underground mall.

Tartagalia's disarming performance is commendable on many levels, but most notable for the way he handles Tolin's battery of chit-chat. His precise, motor-mouthed delivery will certainly keep many in stitches hearing about La Streisand in Streisandland as a compulsive custodian of her own famous and presumably fabulous collections. The innumerable tchotchkes. are all peripheral players, as are a couple of the household's staff.

Besides her talents as a singer, actress, director, Streisand is an author/photographer. With her 2010 coffee table extravaganza My Passion Design, she unwittingly afforded playwright Tolins a golden opportunity to poke fun at her well-known idiosyncrasies.

The plot, or rather situation, is often as poignant as it is also paradoxically irrepressibly precious. Tartaglia has a tour de force with which to contend since he not only plays Alex but also his ultra gay, if relentlessly guileless, boyfriend Barry. But he is also right on target as the graciously condescending mistress of the manor who suggests early on that he call her "Sadie." The playwright has, however, been careful not to make a mockery of any portion of Streisand's life.

Thanks to Saint's crisply attentive direction, we are quickly involved in the development of a highly unlikely relationship. The original brilliantly minimalist set design by Andrew Boyce and original projections by Alex Koch look even better than in NYC on the wider expanse of the GSP Playhouse's stage. And the new lighting design by Christopher Bailey adds more visual magic to the production.

Oh, and the handsome and very macho James Brolin (you must know who he is....and another choice characterization for Tartaglia) ventures below for a frozen yogurt with sprinkles. That's cool and so is the play.

To read Curtainup's review of the original Off-Broadway production go here

Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins
Directed by David Saint

Cast: John Tartaglia (Alex More)
Original Set Design: Andrew Boyce
Lighting Design: Christopher J. Bailey
Projection Design: Alex Koch
Production Stage Manager: Cameron Berne
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes no intermission
George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, N.J.
(732) 246 - 7717
Tickets: from $28.00 - $67.00
Performances: Sunday and Tuesday evening at 7 pm; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Matinees Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm
From 03/03/15 Opened 03/06/15 Ends 03/29/15
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 03/06/15
  Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 03/06/15
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