By Victoria L. Dammer
The intimate New Jersey Repertory Company theater in Long Branch, New Jersey, was the perfect setting to see the world premiere of Michael Tucker’s hilarious new comedy A Tailor Near Me.
Sam (Richard Kind) needs to have an old pair of pants let out because he has gained weight and engages the help of tailor Alfredo (James Pickens, Jr.). Alfredo convinces Sam he needs a new, high-quality, bespoke suit. The suit starts a conversation between them, bringing heartfelt changes and soul-searching to their lives.
Sam is a writer and jokes he doesn’t wear pants. He needs something to wear to the funeral of his lifelong friend Robert, who may or may not die soon. Alfredo is the eternal salesperson, telling Sam it’s all about the suit- why try fixing the old when you can have the new? The two banter back and forth, with both men revealing bits and pieces of their very different pasts and presents.
Sam entertains Alfredo with a “tailor joke,” which brings a round of laughter from the audience. Alfredo reveals his life in America, which started as an immigrant and professes a deep love for his talented wife. Ultimately, Alfredo picks out the suit’s material, finishes the measurements, and makes Sam a sample. When Sam returns for the first fitting, Alfredo warns him when he tries it on, “Watch out for the pins.” Tucker’s metaphor imparts that both men’s lives are like that.
Sam lays bare his thoughts to Alfredo, trying to explain his complex relationship with Robert. After all this time, Sam comes to peace with Robert, as Alfredo is the perfect listener. Sam begs Alfredo to bring his wife to dinner, but he refuses. It leaves us wondering why.
Sam questions Alfredo about why he’s spent so much time getting to know him but won’t introduce him to his wife. Alfredo says, “You need to have a glimpse of the man inside to make a suit.” Alfredo finally breaks down, allowing Sam to see the intimate part of his life he hides from the rest of the world. It’s a tearful and heartbreaking ending that you shouldn’t miss.
A Tailor Near Me, written by Michael Tucker and starring Richard Kind and James Pickens, Jr. Directed by James Grossman; set design by Jessica Parks; lighting design by Jill Nagle; sound design by Nick Simone; costume design by Patricia E. Doherty; technical direction by Brian Snyder and production stage management by Rose Riccardi. Press by JT Public Relations.
N.J. Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, N.J. 07740. Purchase tickets online at njrep.org/plays or by phone at 732-229-3166. N.J. Rep is at 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey, 07740.