Review of Enter Laughing: The Musical at York Theatre Company

  • Our critic's rating:
    May 17, 2019
    Review by:
    Elizabeth Foster

    Enter Laughing: The Musical is a modernized version of the original Broadway play, masterfully crafted by Stuart Ross. Adapted closely to the movie "Enter Laughing," the 1967 comedy film directed by Carl Reiner, based on his autobiographical novel and the stage play. Spoiler: the graveyard scene was eliminated. The original Broadway play titled So Long, 174th Street closed after only 16 performances. It was written as a retrospective and the lead was cast with a 50-year old actor portraying a teenager. Many of the origin play scenes would not work today in the #MeToo era. You will like the tweaks Ross has made at York Theatre Company.

    Heading out of the depression in the late thirties the play is Reiner’s story coming of age in New York City. His fantasies of the big silver screen and becoming an actor come to life hilariously. The teenager David Kolowitz (Chris Dwan) day dreams of being with all the film stars of the day in “The Butler’s Song” which is included in its entirety. “Undressing Girls with my Eyes” was changed to just “With my Eyes.” The musical number “You” was also cleaned up and brought into 2019 as Kolowitz fondles Miss B (Dana Costello) only with his eyes. In the original play version Kolowitz held Miss B’s breasts.

    Often when plays are updated and brought to our current cultural sensibilities they lose their flair and the production falls flat. This one shines. The title is from the stage direction in the script that Kolowitz is trying out for. He is asked in the audition to read a part to the leading lady and includes all the words in the parenthesis as well. It is the funniest moment of the play as he is instructed not to read "enter laughing" but to enter the set laughing. One liners abound throughout.

    A special treat is James Morgan the producing artistic director as Harry Hamburger. They were able to produce the play with one less actor. Morgan, or Magnes Jarmo as he is listed in the cast, has enough time to get dressed after giving his suit to Kolowitz so he can perform his part in the play. Morgan addresses the house and explains he did not come out at the end to take a bow because he cannot take credit as an actor. He really is an actor for several minutes in this production and steals the show. It would have been fitting to take a bow in his bloomers.

    You are guaranteed to leave laughing...

    (Photo by Carol Rosegg)