Honeymoon in Vegas
Honeymoon in Vegas flopped on Broadway back in 2015, despite a slew of good critical reviews. The musical even received a ringing endorsement by esteemed composer Stephen Sondheim in an interview for The New York Times.
Now Honeymoon in Vegas is making an assured regional debut at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, impressively with the original Broadway director ( Gary Griffin ), choreographer ( Denis Jones ) and costume designer ( Brian Hemesath ) all in tow. So local audiences can now puzzle over why this musical version of the 1992 film comedy that starred Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker was a Broadway bet that didn't pay out.
Honeymoon in Vegas follows the commitment-phobic Jack Singer ( Michael Mahler ), who lives in fear of a threatening deathbed wish by his controlling mother ( Marya Grandy ) commanding him to never marry. Jack and his girlfriend, Betsy Nolan ( Samantha Pauly ), try to challenge this "curse" by flying to Las Vegas to elope. But complications ensue when Betsy catches the eye of the suave gangster Tommy Korman ( Sean Allan Krill ), who schemes to steal her away from Jack.
One big conundrum is the musical's retro tone, which is reflected in both the catchy and clever score by Jason Robert Brown ( Parade, The Last Five Years ) and Andrew Bergman's very silly script ( adapted from his own film screenplay ). Brown and Bergman chose to make Honeymoon in Vegas a contemporary piece, which is at odds with Brown's mid-20th century-sounding score and the often backward and sexist attitudes of the simplistic characters. It's also likely that some will find the depictions of minority supporting characters to be borderline offensive with laughs drawn from their pidgin English—even if it is all just an act.
If the material and musical's tone are often at odds, at least all the Marriott's Honeymoon in Vegas expertly snaps along with propulsive and polished performances all around. The energetic staging by Griffin and Jones is loads of fun, adeptly garnering loads of laughs from all of the silly and outrageous situations.
The leading performances are all top-notch ( particularly Krill, who understudied Tony Danza in the Broadway production ), as are the supporting cast members. Steven Strafford as the henchman Johnny Sandwich and Alex Goodrich in a number of character cameos both find great humor from throwaway moments. Meanwhile, Cole Burden gets to indulge in showy vocals in the dual roles of lounge signer Buddy Rocky and the skydiving Elvis Presley impersonator Roy Bacon.
Honeymoon in Vegas is clearly not a screen-to-stage adaptation for the ages. But at least the Marriott Theatre makes the strongest possible case for it in a production that is unashamed at being loads of brainless musical comedy fun.