Broadway “Performers” Surpass Expectations by Kevin M. Thomas

Daniel Breaker and Cheyenne Jackson in The Performers on Broadway. photo by Carol Rosegg

Bawdy, tawdry and terrific, “The Performers” brings porn to the foreground of the Great White Way and definitely leaves its mark.

 The uproarious comedy which follows a porn star to see if he wins the coveted Adult Film Award is not to be missed. It is so funny that I snorted twice!
Cheyenne Jackson is definitely hunky enough and has perfect comic, deadpan delivery as the lighter than air porn stud. Show starts with Jackson’s character Mandrew being interviewed by an old high school friend (Daniel Breaker) from a New York newspaper prior to attending the awards ceremony. Mandrew can’t remember if it’s the New York Times or the New York Post…Mandrew just hopes its the centerfold.
Jackson and Breaker are a perfect modern odd couple as Jackson reviews his porn career with his more refined and uptight writer friend.
But the show takes a turn towards brilliance with the introduction of Ari Graynor, who magically makes a indelible mark in your memory and heart as Mandrews’ porn wife. Part Judy Holiday and part Jennifer Tilly, Graynor brings laughs with every line she says, knowing when to pause and wait for the laugher to stop before going on. It’s a classic comedic role and Graynor puts her stamp on it.

Henry Winkler in The Performers. photo by Carol Rosegg

Henry Winkler, the biggest name in the show, seems at home in the ensemble cast and plays aging adult star Chuck Wood. His entrance line still has me laughingThe whole cast is actually amazing and truly shows what an ensemble piece is all about.

I do want to, though, make special note of Set Designer Anna Louizos whose work is beautiful, accurate and real. Her Vegas hotel rooms look exactly like that. The bar scene – spot on perfect. The mechanics that quickly transform these scenes is absolutely flawless and make the production design one of the stars of the show.
And then there’s playwrite David West Read. Where have you been all of my life? This is perhaps one of the funniest shows to hit New York and matches the wit of a Noel Coward or Kaufman & Hart play, but it just happens to deal with the porn industry and the frank language that goes with it. Read definitely is a name we should remember and I will definitely follow his career 
For those too prudish to attend, first of all, why are you reading me. But besides that, it actually has no nudity and is heavy on adult-oriented conversations and dialog. All-in-all, “The Performers” out-performs my expectations and simply should not be missed.

Ari Graynor and Alicia Silverstone in The Performers. photo by Carol Rosegg

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