A funny boy shines in Streisand-inspired theater comedy

By David Lampe-Wilson
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The cult of celebrity rears its comedic head in Buyer and Cellar, a one-man show that closes out not only Weston Playhouse’s summer run at the OtherStages at Weston Rod and Gun Club, it closes out its use of the facility completely, with the fall christening of the theater at Walker Farm.

Buyer and Cellar is a show inspired by a strange idea — a play narrated by an out-of-work actor who runs a mall that has only one customer and that one customer is Hollywood star Barbra Streisand.

It’s a tale of whimsy that offers the right actor a chance to play a series of characters, including the narrator/actor Alex More, his boyfriend, Babs herself, her husband and a series of lesser beings.

They are each embodied by Kyle Branzel, who finds depth in the lightly drawn caricatures and also offers some needed weight to Jonathan Tolins’ play, one that is little more than an extended skit.
With a heavy dollop of camp and a knowing eye for irony, Buyer and Cellar draws us in on a series of star-obsessed encounters and we learn more about Streisand than we might have learned in 50-year subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine.

A monochromatic set by Brian Dudkiewicz and some sensational lighting from Amith Chandrashaker take us from Alex’s apartment, to Streisand’s gift “shoppe,” to her clothing boutique (complete with costumes from her films and stage shows) to a sweet shop that dispenses frozen yogurt 24/7 and to Bea’s Doll Shop, where even the Diva herself has a tough time getting a bargain.

Director Steve Stettler shepherds the evening at a crisp pace.

And Branzel, who played all the suspects in last year’s Murder for Two, quickly wins over his audience as he morphs from one character to the next in a series of encounters, spats and telephone conversations.

He is nimble, knowing and inviting, which is what makes it so easy for us to go along on this preposterous journey.

Buyer and Cellar continues through Sept. 3 at The Weston Playhouse Other Stage, Weston Rod and Gun Club, 982 Route 100, Weston. Performances: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For tickets and information, click here or call  802-824-5288.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeIn the ArtsReviews

About the Author: After 30 years as a theater critic and arts editor for a Connecticut daily newspaper, David Lampe-Wilson transplanted to Vermont with his wife and two cats.

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