Buyer & Cellar Is A Must See…



In the suspenseful conclusion of the epic tale of how, If The Devil Had Menopause, spends a Saturday in Los Angeles, I shall conclude the riveting saga about where I stuffed my face (read yesterday’s restaurant review of, Faith & Flower) with a joyous theatre review.

I was thoroughly entertained by actor, Michael Urie’s truly remarkable performance in the hilarious, well written off-broadway show, Buyer & Cellar.

I entered the circular forum of the Mark Taper to the dulcet tones of Barbra Streisand singing one of my favorite songs from my misbegotten youth, The Way We Were…”Mem’ries, light the corners of my mind.”

Moments later out skips Michael Urie (remember Mark from Ugly Betty?!) and plops down on the edge of the stage, explaining that the brain is round so how could the memories be stored in the corners of our mind?!

Ken Fallin Drawing
Ken Fallin Drawing

And, thus, the 1 hour and 40 minute uproariously funny and poignant journey commenced.

There is thankfully no intermission as the director, Stephen Brackett, would be crazy to halt Michael Urie’s momentum…he is on a roll the entire time.

Buyer & Cellar is inspired by Streisand’s 2010 coffee-table book, “My Passion for Design.”

Michael Urie
Michael Urie Photo: Joan Marcus

The book, with a hefty $60 price tag, makes it a scrumptious target for satire. Jonathan Tolins has turned it into a launching pad for Buyer & Cellar, an irresistible play about celebrity false bonding and the solitude of fame.

A wonderful solo vehicle for Urie, it is a work of exquisite fiction, rooted in facts surrounding the actual underground Main Street mall in the basement of a barn on Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate.

Inspired by Winterthur, the American decorative arts museum in Delaware, Streisand’s Mall of the Rich and Famous Horder, is actually an avenue of quaint storefronts, including a doll shop, an antiques emporium, a gift shoppe, a vintage clothing boutique, a constantly whirling frozen yogurt machine stocked with sprinkles and a continually popping popcorn machine in the barn cellar.

“Remember, this is the part that’s real,” Mr. Urie says before he slips into the Alex More character who is a struggling gay Los Angeles actor who was fired as the mayor of Toontown at Disneyland.

Urie is convincing in every incarnation of other characters introduced in the play. Marcus Welby, MD, in real life, Streisand’s husband, James Brolin, Sharon the estates sergeant-at-arms, the brilliant Barbra with familiar hand gestures, posture and hair flips and Barry, Alex’s excitable barely employed screenwriter boyfriend.

Michael Urie Photo:

As the NY Times stated, “the wit and invention of Mr. Tolins writing and the immersive storytelling skills of Mr. Urie are such that not only do they spin a sturdy narrative out of this preposterous situation, they actually persuade you to buy into it.”

Although much fun is poked at Streisand, under Stephen Brackett’s astute direction, the play is brimming with love and admiration for the diva.

I identified with the honesty spoken by Streisand upon her return from My Passion For Design book tour. When asked by Alex how it went she  muttered, “Fine, if you like dealing with people.” My husband turned to me and asked if I had written that particular line for the play.

Tollins’ writing is ingeniously comical and pointed. Urie’s delivery and mannerism make for great theater. The play opened off-broadway in June, 2013 and quickly recouped its’ investment.

Buyer & Cellar closed last weekend in New York, but the tour continues. It plays the Mark Taper through August 17th and then moves on to San Francisco, Dallas and Toronto. It will debut in London in 2015.

Get off your tushy and go immediately to see, Buyer & Cellar. It is funny, smart, entertaining, witty and Michael Urie is brilliant. The entire experience goes down like butta.

Buyer & Cellar, Mark Taper Forum 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Performances are Tuesday-Saturday 8pm, Matinees Saturday at 2:30 and Sunday at 1:00pm. Running time 1 hour and 40 minutes, no intermission.

Michael Urie  Photo: Sandra Coudert
Michael Urie Photo: Sandra Coudert

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