NEW YORK—It’s not what you’ve done in life that matters, but what you haven’t done. And thinking about the “if onlys” won’t do anything to change them. These are a couple of the several dozen homilies that appear with the frequency of candy at a children’s Halloween party in the surprisingly appealing “Two’s a Crowd.” The show may be filled with stock characters and sitcom-like situations, but it has a powerhouse cast and a seamless blending of the comedy and music genres. It’s never anything less than a total delight.
Wendy (Rita Rudner), a 59- to 63-year-old wedding planner (who keeps changing her age), has come to Las Vegas for a reset on life after her marriage of 25 years falls apart. Her plans are brought to a screeching halt when she finds, due to a software glitch, that her hotel room has been doubled booked.
She is forced to share the room with Tom (Robert Yacko), a retired electrical contractor who has come to town for the annual Vegas poker tournament. The tournament is the reason that every hotel room in the area is already spoken for.
Initially, Wendy and Tom, who is carrying a hidden pain of his own, appear to have nothing in common—other than a skill at sarcasm and comedic put-downs. They differ in everything from the way they order dinner, to the way they pack their clothes, to the type of music they enjoy.
It isn’t long, though, before the two start to bond over their loneliness and their desire to move forward. While commiserating about their children whom they rarely see, each begins to feel a strong connection to the other, with the clear hint of something more permanent between them possible.
While this is where some stories might choose to end, “Two’s a Crowd” is just getting started. The show uses the idea of what can happen during a stay in Vegas to explore exactly what a lasting relationship entails. Familiarity and sharing common ground prove to be just as important as trust and understanding—an idea that everyone can certainly relate to.
The characters don’t always act in ways that are “politically correct,” as Wendy puts it. Rather, they are making choices that are right for them. The fact that both Wendy and Tom are in their so-called golden years adds an extra layer of emotion to the story.
All the Fun
Despite the clear seriousness of the subject matter, the one standout element in “Two’s a Crowd” is its overall sense of fun. The work is billed as a “comedy musical” and doesn’t disappoint in either aspect.
The characters break into song in unpredictable ways, which elevates the piece into something that feels fresh. It happens when Wendy’s husband, Gus (Brian Lohmann), appears seeking another chance with her.
Other musical highlights include a duet between Wendy and Louise (Kelly Holden Bashar), the hotel’s VP of operations, singing about the myths and realities of Las Vegas; and Lili (Bashar), a hotel maid complaining about the cleanliness habits of the guests. Not to mention an absolutely killer closing number.
Jason Feddy, the show’s composer and lyricist, is one of the onstage musicians, so he adds his own vocal talents to the proceedings when called for.
The script penned by Rudner and director Martin Bergman—the two are husband and wife—works perfectly. The text is clearly tailored to capitalize on Rudner’s comic skills, while at the same time, it evolves from a basic two-person comedy into a piece that asks some important questions about life.
Bergman’s direction is also quite strong. It allows both the spoken and musical moments to come through with maximum effect.
The entire cast is excellent, with all of the characters never anything less than appealing. The chemistry that Yacko and Rudner have together onstage is a major plus. Bashar and Lohmann more than hold their own in multiple roles.
The only noticeable hiccup is that Rudner’s musical delivery is not quite up to that of the rest of the cast. This is especially noticeable in her duets with Yacko.
“Two’s a Crowd” ensures that the audience enjoys themselves from start to finish while also imparting a clear message. In these, it succeeds quite handily and will almost certainly have a long life in local and regional theaters around the country once it finishes its New York run.
‘Two’s a Crowd’
59 E. 59th St.
Tickets: 646-892-7999 or 59e59.org
Running Time: 2 hours (one intermission)
Closes: Aug. 25
Judd Hollander is a reviewer for Stagebuzz.com and a member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle. He can be reached at email@example.com