MILLBURN, NJ – Plenty of glitz, glamour and glitter are on stage at the Paper Mill Playhouse in its uproarious, fast-paced production of “Honeymoon in Vegas.”
Tony Danza and Rob McClure head a smart, snappy cast in this breezy musical of love lost and found and lost again. (Or it could be found and lost and found.) Directed by Gary Griffin, noted for his highly successful Encore productions at City Center and directing credits ranging from London to San Diego, the show never sags or stalls. It’s based on the 1992 movie which featured Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The show benefits from clever lyrics and music by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Andrew Berman. Take “Out of the Sun,” which Danza as the slick Vegas guy Tommy sing s about his dear, departed wife Donna. Danza, of course, is familiar from TVs’s Taxi and Who’s the Boss? But he’s had a glowing stage career as well in “The Producers” at one extreme and “The Iceman Cometh” with Kevin Spacey at the other.
Then we have “Friki Friki,” sung by an adorable Catherine Ricafort as Mahi , while trying to seduce Jack. McClure as Jack is kind of a sad sack and ‘mama’s boy,’ but he sings and dances all over the stage. Audiences may remember him for his superb take as “Chaplin” on Broadway and “Where’s Charley?” at City Center.
Jack’s problem is that he’s haunted by his dead mother, who begged him not to marry after she’s gone. But on a side trip to Hawaii, he visits the Garden of Disappointed Mothers, which cures his angst. Nancy Opel is a hoot as the domineering mother who won’t let go.
Brynn O”Malley makes a fetching Betsy, the girlfriend that Jack can’t quite bring himself to marry. She goes off in a huff with Tommy. But Jack is redeemed when he hooks up with Elvis Presley impersonators as they parachute into Vegas. The “Airport Song” hits home with the audience, especially with its own special effects.
The supporting cast is terrific. Choreography by Denis Jones, music direction by Tom Murray, scenic design by Anna Louizos, and lighting by Paul Miller all add their lavish elements. Costumes by Brian Hemesath are imaginative and fun as well.
There are any number of incisive, funny bits as this musical moves along. “Honeymoon in Vegas” has lots of surprises and intriguing twists. Yes, it has corny elements, but we all can use a good laugh (especially now) and the Paper Mill provides an evening of merriment in abundance.
“Honeymoon in Vegas” continues at the Paper Mill, located at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, through Oct. 27. For tickets, call (973) 379-3636 or visit papermill.org.
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