Featuring a musical-within-a-musical and with references to Stanislavski, Meisner and Uta Hagen, Heist! is a meta-theatrical show.
After being told that he’s going to be the “dramaturg,” the Russian Yevgeny (Christopher Bober) asks what that is. “That’s the beauty of it: no one knows,” says Jack (Alec Irion), the male lead in Three Card Monte. Heist! is not without its funny moments, but the humor is extremely juvenile, such as, in one song, rhyming “idea” with “diarrhea.”
Though we never meet Fiedler and Kane, the ostensible composer and lyricist of Three Card Monte, there’s no mistaking the inference that they’re a shoo-in for Rodgers and Hammerstein. Not that the score of Heist! resembles any of their soaring collaborations.
What’s missing from the nondescript music is originality, soul or spirit, and the same can be said about the book. Under the guidance of director James Will McBride, the cast, however, features some strong performances. In addition to Bober, Irion, and Sabulis, these include especially the red-haired Claire Leyden as Cynthia–with a strong, soprano, operatic voice– and alto Blair Medina as Patricia, who plays the “Femme Fatale” in Three Card Monte.
Jenna Haimes also deserves a lot of credit for choreographing so much dancing on the tiny raised stage at the Players Theatre, even if many of the moves invoke both the Radio City’s Rockettes and A Chorus Line.
Heist! (through September 2, 2018)
Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.HeistMusical.com
Running time: two hours and 15 minutes including one intermission
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