Susan Booth, the director of the Alliance Theatre, addressed the Alliance audience by referring to the rotating venues this year (because of the renovation of its space at the Woodruff Arts Center) as “crazy pants.”
It was a well-matched theater audience as Alliance regulars graced the Marcus Jewish Community Center dressed in lace, coats and ties as if they were attending a Broadway production. The atmosphere was filled with rom-com fondness, and the production of “Crossing Delancey,” with a cast of five, magically engaged the audience.
Many of us saw Amy Irving in the 1985 play and 1988 movie; but who remembers?
Living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Izzy is at the crossroads of singlehood in a potentially vacuous modern world of pomposity dating vs. the urging of her strong Bubbie and loquacious “Zsa Zsa Gabor on steroids” matchmaker.
Mary Lynn Owen is believable and lovable as Bubbie and, not coincidentally, played the role of Izzy for Theatrical Outfit in 1990. With her tightly bandaged beige leggings and blue apron, she pulls off Yiddish expressions as if they are second nature.
Her first nature is strength and ego. Attached to her dating advice are details about how men courted her in her younger days and her choice of the right man, who wooed her the most fervently amid the competition.
And who doesn’t have a soft spot for a bubbie who cares as much about saving the string on a package as about what’s inside? The “pooh-pooh” spitting I could do without.
Izzy, portrayed by Sochi Fried, charms the audience with her facial expressions and knowing side winks. Working in a bookstore, she pursues a dashingly handsome author, Tyler (Daniel Thomas May), who deigns to let her chase him.
(May’s 10-year-old daughter was in the audience and said later that her dad is not a “rascal” like Tyler.)
Enter the goodhearted Sam, a “pickle proprietor” played by Andrew Benator, who starred in one of my Alliance favorites, “Disgraced.” Sam bonds with Bubbie and shows his heart to Izzy, perhaps a bit too early.
Sam goes to shul and cleans Bubbie’s windows; but he holds his own as appealing, genuine and open to modernity without giving up his soul.
Susan Jordan Roush plays Hannah, the matchmaker, like a fiddle by showing up at all the right and wrong times. She is never shy about eating whatever Bubbie can’t hide from her. Bossy, yes, but her heart is in the right place.
With apps like Match and JDate, has the world of dating advanced beyond “Delancey”?
Canadian director Leora Morris, 33, said: “The central questions haven’t changed much. The very human drama of figuring out who to love and how to identify who to love is not going away.”
The scenes move quickly, and I found myself sorry that the play was over. The lessons are tried and true through the decades:
- It’s important for young people to have older people in their lives.
- Ultimately, it’s most poignant to select a mate based on kindness and loyalty instead of narcissism, the codeword that blasts us into divorce court.
Whom does Izzy, in her tight, braless, black-banded cocktail dress, choose?
As a special bonus during intermission, Clive Bank of Added Touch Catering served samples and sold delish Floppickles, a 100-year-old recipe handed down from his grandfather’s deli in Riga, Latvia, by way of South Africa.
What: “Crossing Delancey”
Where: Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody
When: Through Saturday, Nov. 25
Tickets: $20 to $75 (some seats $10 for teens); www.alliancetheatre.org