Based on the 1992 film of the same title, Jack Singer (Rob McClure) promises his dying mother (Nancy Opel) that he will never get married. The existence of this promise is the bane of girlfriend Betsy’s (Brynn O’Malley) life. An attempt to purchase a ring at Tiffany’s is sabotaged by an apparition of Jack’s now dead mother in a very funny and cleverly staged number, “Never Get Married”. Yet, despite his promise, Jack ultimately concedes and the two head to Las Vegas to tie the knot.
In a last-ditch effort to delay the inevitable, Jack gets sidetracked into a poker game with swindler, Tommy Kormin (Tony Danza). After losing $58,000, Jack settles with Tommy to let him “borrow” his girlfriend for the weekend. What Tommy doesn’t tell him is that he is taking her to Hawaii in an effort to woo her. You see, Betsy bears an uncanny resemblance to Tommy’s dead wife, Donna.
Director Gary Griffin, choreographer Denis Jones, book writer Andrew Bergman (who also wrote and directed the original movie) and composer Jason Robert Brown have crafted a well-oiled musical machine. This show flows at a perfect pace with just the right balance of sweetness and silliness and a score that makes you vibrate in your seat. The cast of lovable and funny characters is in well-placed hands.
McClure (a Tony nominee for Chaplin) is hilarious and adorable as Jack. You understand why Betsy has been patiently dating him for 5 years. As Betsy, O’Malley has a powerful singing voice which she plaintively applies to her act one number “Anywhere But Here” about love and life passing her by.
Tony Danza as Tommy proves that despite not having a broad vocal range or the strongest singing voice, that he has the chops to handle a musical. In the second act Danza covers a scene change performing his number “A Little Luck” downstage with an impressive tap routine. He is lithe, relaxed and obviously enjoying himself. He also does a lovely job with the ballad, “You Made the Wait Worthwhile” on which he accompanies himself on the ukulele.
In cheesy dual roles, David Josefsberg is a hoot as nightclub singer Buddy Rocky and flying Elvis impersonator Roy Bacon. Catherine Ricafort has a fun turn as Mahi, a distraction hired by Tommy to delay Jack in his attempt to find the couple on their Hawaiian weekend. She and McClure make joyful comedic hay with the number “Friki-Friki.” Matthew Saldivar, is perfectly buffoonish as Tommy’s dumb-as-a-door-nail right-hand-man, Johnny Sandwich.
This show builds, moves and is swiftly carried on Brown’s tuneful score. The show is given visual appeal with the help of the costume design of Brian Hemesath and the lighting of Howell Binkley. Despite some blurriness in the LED walls used as a modern-day version of a scenic drop, Anna Louizos set is utilitarian in its design. It uses a moving bandstand that allows the band to move on and off stage. This allows the smoking-hot orchestra, under the direction of Tom Murray, to be a vibrant part of the production, in fact, they even get their own costume change for the second act.
I couldn’t be happier for Jason Robert Brown. He is one of the most brilliant composers of our time. Despite three Tony Awards, mass critical success seems to evade him. His Bridges of Madison County had a stunning score but a book that was less than compelling. This is not the case with Honeymoon in Vegas. This show deserves a long life and I promise you, sheer joy awaits you at the Nederlander theatre.