by Leslie, Concierge
On a hot summer night in NYC going to “Buyer & Cellar” is the perfect way to cool off and enjoy the evening. The Barrow Street Theater is quant with an extraordinarily friendly staff, and the intimate theater provides comfortable seating ensuring that every seat provides a great view of the show. From the moment Michael Urie stepped out onto the stage and took a seat on the edge I felt like I was part of a conversation between friends. Urie plays Alex More, a struggling gay actor in Los Angeles who was recently impeached as the Mayor of Toontown and fired from Disneyland. His friend and former employer takes pity on him and refers Alex to a job in Malibu working retail. However, this is not the type of retail job you and I would ever expect. Alex will be working in the basement of the one and only Barbra Streisand.
With millions to spare Streisand has transformed her basement into a shopping avenue with dozens of stores to provide a home to all of the stuff she has acquired over the years. Designed to mimic the American decorative arts museum in Delaware called the Winterthur, Barbra’s hoarding is just as elegant as a Ziegfeld Folly production. While Urie makes it very clear from the beginning that “Buyer & Cellar” is a work of fiction, the mini-mall in Barbra’s basement is the one aspect of the play which is completely true.
In the play Alex is required to wear a uniform and assist the one customer privy to this prime shopping locale. Boredom from spending his days alone in the basement soon dissipates when he receives his first and only customer Barbra Streisand, who goes by the name of Sadie (wink wink.) Sporadic at first, Barbra’s visits soon become a regular part of Alex’s day and a relationship develops.
“Buyer & Cellar” has a thousand laughs for the individuals like me who love Barbra and are familiar with her work. (The synopsis of the movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” alone was worth a standing ovation.) Even without a Streisand education this smart and witty comedy will have you rolling with joyous laughter as you watch Alex navigate the choppy waters of a celebrity friendship. Urie flows effortlessly between the different characters he portrays in the show, each well rounded and real with dialog full of heart and tender humor. I sat astonished at his lithe portrayal of Streisand, then, like turning on a dime he suddenly transforms into Alex’s mischievous and dramatic boyfriend Barry. I relished every story, experience, and emotion shared on stage and I had to continually remind myself that everything I heard was fiction even though Urie made me want to believe it was all true.
I would be remissif I did not mention the simplistic and beautiful set of “Buyer & Cellar”. With only a few props I could count on one hand, I enjoyed watching each one set-up and transform different scenes throughout the play. The lighting of the show is quirky and original which adds to the illusion of the different locations flawlessly. “Buyer & Cellar” is a must see this summer and I hope to see Michael Urie in more Off-Broadway and Broadway productions in the future.