Harvey Fierstein and John Bucchino's new musical, A Catered Affair, playing on Broadway is one of the best acted, simple, and beautiful new musicals to open in a while.
The show centers around Aggie, wonderfully played by Faith Prince, and her husband Tom, (Tom Wopat) and their decision to use a bereavement check from the government for their son, for a stake in Tom's cab company or a lavish wedding for their daughter.
The show is sort of a white middle class A Raisin in the Sun meets "The Gift of the Magi." Every solution that is available is complicated by an equally complex one on the other end. And it's impossible to find a balance. Or rather, the play is about finding that balance, if it can be found at all.
The show is acted very naturally and understated, as musicals are almost never played. It's as if the show was approached as a play, rather then a musical. The characters are fully fleshed out people who are as flawed as they are they are idealistic.
That quality may be the shows downfall. The show is so beautifully understated, if you're not 100% invested in it from the beginning, I can imagine how the 90 intermission-less minutes can feel as if you were invited to a traditional Catholic wedding mass in Latin.
But it's flaw, is also it's strength. You will not find more nuanced performances this season in a musical.
The fact that the show only received three Tony nominations is very upsetting, as it's book and the overall production should have been nominated, especially over the asinine Cry-Baby. But the nominations it did receive are very well deserved. Tom Wopat in Best Supporting Actor in a musical, Faith Prince in Best Actress in a musical, and Jonathon Tunick for orchestrations.