Domesticated, Nothing to Hide, La Soirée and Little Miss Sunshine

Domesticated needs tightening, Soirée needs editing and Sunshine needs polishing, but Nothing to Hide is perfection!
November 21, 2013

Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated; (inset) Hamish McCann in La Soirée

Domesticated: 4/5 Stars 
Nothing to Hide: 5/5 Stars 
La Soirée: 2.5/5 Stars 
Little Miss Sunshine: 3/5 Stars

More provocative than his overrated Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’s Domesticated is a searing new marital drama that takes a fascinating look at the battle of the sexes. Under the laser-like direction of Anna D. Shapiro, a Tony winner for August: Osage County, Domesticated opens with the all-too-familiar public confessional by gynecologist-turned-politician Bill, with his loyal wife Judy at his side. As played with volcanic intensity by Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf, respectively, Bill and Judy offer themselves up for a clinical examination of marriage, sexuality and loyalty that’s guaranteed to be as divisive as it is entertaining. The brilliant Metcalf continues a string of dazzling stage portraits with Domesticated, and Goldblum’s cagey performance is a revelation. Similarly, the supporting cast, led by the invaluable Mary Beth Peil and Robin De Jesus, are terrific in a variety of roles. Though Norris lets his narrative get away from him and the dialogue tends to morph into monologue, he cleverly weaves into Domesticated a series of scientific lectures about the mating rituals of various species that proves a hilarious comment on Bill and Judy’s plight.

The new sleight-of-hand piece Nothing to Hide hides plenty—all of which is a magical delight. Starring the smooth-talking prestidigitators Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães, Nothing to Hide will leave you amazed, open-mouthed and rubbing your eyes. It’s a tiny space in Signature’s new theater complex, but sit as close as you can to be dazzled by DelGaudio and Guimarães’s rapid-fire card tricks and jaw-dropping illusions. Smoothly directed by none other than Neil Patrick Harris, the 70-minute Nothing to Hide is never less than astonishing!

The latest nightlife “event” piece, La Soirée, is a mixed bag of cabaret, burlesque and circus that varies as wildly in execution as it does in entertainment value. To be sure, The English Gents (Denis Lock and Hamish McCann) are ogle-worthy specimens of manhood in their acrobatic “adagio” act, and Stephen “Bath Boy” Williams is worth the price of admission with his chiseled, Adonis-like physique that flies about the stage dripping water and testosterone in equal quantities. And, quirky as they are, both Mario (the Queen of the Circus who juggles while lip-synching to Freddie Mercury songs) and Ursula Martinez (whose disappearing hanky routine involves her stripping down to her birthday suit and pulling said hanky out of her coochie snorcher!) have their charms. But acts like comedian Mooky Cornish (whose audience-participation bit goes on way too long), sword-swallower Miss Behave and chanteuse Meow Meow all need serious editing and directing to lighten up their dead-weight contributions.

It’s dispiriting to report that Little Miss Sunshine, the new musical from Tony winners William Finn (music and lyrics) and James Lapine (book and direction), can most charitably be described as a missed opportunity. Based on the charming Oscar-winning 2006 film of the same name written by Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine’s biggest hurdle is that it never needed to be a musical in the first place. The cast—entirely new since the show’s out-of-town tryout in La Jolla in 2011—is only intermittently successful. David Rasche is miscast as Grandpa (the role which won Alan Arkin an Oscar), the funny Rory O’Malley works a bit too hard as gay Uncle Frank and the handsome Will Swenson’s singing—which began deteriorating in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Murder Ballad—is now officially terrible.

Domesticated plays through January 5 at LCT’s Mitzi Newhouse (150 W 65th St, LCT.org). Nothing to Hide plays through January 19 at the Signature (480 W 42nd St, NothingToHideNYC.com). La Soirée plays through March 30 at the Union Square Theater (100 E 17th St, La-Soiree.com). Little Miss Sunshine plays through December 15 at Second Stage (305 W 43rd St, 2ST.org).

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