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Crossing Delancey

a Comedy/Drama
by Susan Sandler

COMPANY : Alliance Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta [WEBSITE]
ID# 5155

SHOWING : October 07, 2017 - November 25, 2017



The play that inspired the hit film, "Crossing Delancey" is the story of Izzy, a beautiful, intelligent, single young woman, and her 80-year-old Bubbie, who is determined to see her granddaughter get married before she dies. Giving Cupid a nudge, this irascible granny hires a matchmaker and sets out to find her granddaughter the perfect mate. But will Sam, the neighborhood pickle man, be the kind of man Izzy has in mind? Performed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s warm and intimate Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, this hilarious and heartwarming play takes a bemused look at the clash between traditional Jewish-American immigrant culture and the more modern aspirations of the next generation.  

Sam Andrew Benator
Tyler Daniel May
Bubbie Mary Lynn Owen
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Crossing Atlanta
by playgoer
Monday, October 23, 2017
In its trek across the theaters of metro Atlanta, the Alliance has chosen the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta as the venue for its Jewish selection of the season, Susan Sandler’s "Crossing Delancey." It’s a good choice in terms of gaining audience, but the stage feels a bit cramped in Kat Conley’s set design. The main portion of the stage represents the worn kitchen of a Lower East Side apartment in New York, with an easy chair to stage right and a window and perfunctorily used stool stage left. Up right on the stage is a boutique bookstore. Down left is a park bench. An area up left, above the kitchen storage, is used for various other locations. The whole thing is framed and backed by huge picture frame-like assemblages that hint at a New York skyline. Joseph A. Futral’s lighting design nicely illuminates these areas for different scenes, and spotlights areas downstage for bits of narration by our leading character, Izzy (Sochi Fried).

In the first act, Izzy wears the same nondescript, unflattering top and skirt throughout. In the second act, Sydney Roberts’ costume design gets more of a workout. It’s only that first act outfit for Izzy that is a disappointment. Others are dressed in perfectly delightful garb for their distinct characters, although a suit for stick-thin Andrew Benator (Sam) is perhaps more swimmingly large than it need be.

Kate Marvin’s sound design doesn’t get too much of a workout, with some phone and doorbell rings augmented by actual door knocks. Music between scenes is brief and vaguely atmospheric, with a rousing hora-like tune adding some joyousness to the ending.

Leora Morris has directed the play to keep the action relatively fluid, and uses entrances through the auditorium to good effect (especially for those mid-audience). She gets good, textured performances out of all the cast, with Joanna Daniels (not to be confused with Atlanta’s stalwart Joanna Daniel, recently of "King Lear") being an audience favorite and downright hoot as matchmaker Hannah. Sochi Fried makes Izzy a dizzy romantic whose heart opens wide and whose face shines with her emotions. Daniel Thomas May plays heartthrob author Tyler with just the right rakishness, and Andrew Benator gives pickle purveyor Sam an easy, good-humored sweetness that endears him to the audience more quickly than he endears himself to Izzy. Dialect coach Elisa Carlson gets a variety of appropriate New York-inflected accents from the cast.

Mary Lynn Owen gives a fine performance as Izzy’s grandmother (Bubbie), but it strikes me as more a performance than an embodiment of the character. Bubbie rattles on about how she was a sweet-voiced beauty in her youth, but the singing we hear from Ms. Owen is unmusical, and there’s no sense of nostalgia or bending of the truth in her reminiscences. She acts the part as if the audience can’t detect the discrepancy between what they are seeing and hearing and what Bubbie is claiming, while the others around her become the characters they are playing.

Susan Sandler’s play tells a sweet story of a young New York Jewish woman finding love as instigated by the machinations of her grandmother and against her initial instincts and liberated views. But is a matchmaker that different from a dating app and a gaggle of girlfriends offering their opinions that "you ought to give this one a chance?" "Crossing Delancey" is very Jewish and equal parts old-fashioned and timeless, although it takes place in 1985 (at least according to Bubbie’s kitchen calendar). It’s a wonderful fit for the venue, and should do nothing to alienate Alliance Theatre patrons who are being forced to traverse the metro region to catch this season’s shows. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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