BY TULIS McCALL
Half way through the 100 or so minutes of this production, I leaned over to my chum and whispered, “For what it’s worth, I have no idea what is going on.”
And while that remained true for the remainder of the evening, it didn’t stop me from having a good time.
PS if anyone out there knows David Hyde Pierce, would you please get in touch and let him know that I would very much like it were he to take me dancing. He would enjoy dancing with me, if I do say so myself.
Back to the story. Well, you see that is kind of where I got lost. There are three stories here that don’t seem to be connected in the least. “Andra”, narrated by Hyde Pierce, is the story of a friendship between a young boy (Frankie Seratch) and the carpenter (Paul Anthony Stewart) who works (and works and works and works on that one set of cabinet doors) for the boy’s family. There being no other adult around who takes more than a passing, if any at all, interest, these two guys fall into mutual like. The Man is an astronomy enthusiast and introduces the boy to the stars and their stories. The boy is a mathematician who understands that our existence is based on numbers to the point where the mystical has gotten a toe-hold in the door. And just as the door opens to the possible, another door closes.
In “Brick” a woman (Julia Murney) obsessed with old time black and white movies achieves lift-off when an inanimate object turns into a delicious song and dance man. Ms. Murney and David Hyde Pierce are an exquisite team and together they allow us all to float into the stratosphere.
In the final piece “The Landing” a middle-aged gay couple marvels at their fortune in adopting a boy who is beyond perfect. They have had a beautiful life up until this moment, and now they have moved exponentially into another sphere. And once again Mr. Pierce’s writing takes us out of the box into a place for which we were not prepared.
The execution of the production is impeccable. Walter Bobbie’s direction is sensitive and specific, allowing each piece to embrace its unique flavor. And the cast is simply wonderful. The age difference is never a problem, and this is an ensemble that is having one heck of a great time.
Even so, why these three pieces are together remains a mystery. The dots do not connect, and were it not carrying the name Kander I doubt that this production would achieve the light of day – or perhaps I should say the light of night. And that would be unfortunate, because each of these stories is a jewel.
So take them as they are – separate but equal – and enjoy the show.
THE LANDING – Book and lyrics by Greg Pierce; music by John Kander; story by Mr. Kander and Mr. Pierce; directed by Walter Bobbie
WITH: Julia Murney, David Hyde Pierce, Frankie Seratch and Paul Anthony Stewart.
Choreography by Josh Rhodes; sets by John Lee Beatty; costumes by Michael Krass; lighting by Ken Billington; sound by Nevin Steinberg; production stage manager, Roy Harris; production manager, David Nelson; general manager, DR Theatrical Management; music coordinator, John Monaco; conductor, Paul Masse; orchestrations by Larry Hochman; music director, David Loud. Presented by Vineyard Theater, Douglas Aibel, artistic director; Sarah Stern, co-artistic director; Jennifer Garvey-Blackwel, executive producer. At the Vineyard Theater, 108 East 15th Street, Manhattan, (212) 353-0303, vineyardtheatre.org. Through Nov. 24. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.