Reviewed by Rick Busciglio, September 13, 2015
"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a match, Find me a find, catch me a catch, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Look through your book, And make me a perfect match." This, of course, is part of the amusing song from Fiddler On The Roof.
Not unique to the Jewish community, the custom of using a matchmaker for finding a mate is also the central story in another Jewish themed musical Hello Dolly. Two decades later, playwright Susan Sandler updated the practice to Manhattan's Lower East Side in her play and later a movie Crossing Delancy.
The film has become a bit of a cult classic after rather modest box office success. Many people fail to remember the title... but clearly remember the movie about “the pickle man.” The film starred Amy Irving as Isabelle and Peter Reigert as Sam (the pickle man).
The play Crossing Delancy is a lighthearted romantic comedy that is now receiving a first rate production at the comfortable Barn Theatre in Montville, New Jersey (weekends until October 3rd). The basics of the plot are....Jewish grandmother hires a matchmaker to find a good Jewish boy for her 30 something granddaughter. The girl, a clerk in a small book store, fancies a local writer and is embarrassed by her grandmother's attempt at matchmaking. She considers herself an uptown girl...with no time for a local merchant...a pickle seller no less. Will she find love with the writer or the pickle man? We can say she makes her grandmother VERY happy.The play is cleverly presented via a series of amusing vignettes on an attractive set in three sections (designed by Greg Moran). Stage left is a kitchen, center a park bench, and stage right the bookshop. The director, Susan Binder, takes full advantage of the broad stage moving her players like well coordinated chess pieces.
Director Binder, has nicely cast the five characters. First, as the enterprising grandmother (Bubbe) is Janet Lazar (photo left). She perfectly nails the part. Her Bubbe is warm, caring, funny, lovable, heart of gold, in other words, a major league mensch. The granddaughter Isabelle, or Izzy, is played by a very effervescent Nikki Simz (photo left). Her excitement in her encounters with the writer and the reverse, almost boredom, in her first encounter with Sam displays a lovely range.
Fred Halperin (photo right with Nikki Simz) projects nicely Sam the pickle man. A properly modest, kind, middle-class merchant who needs help in wowing Izzy. Aid comes from Bubbe: "Oy! such a man as Sam you'll never see."
Sam Salter is particularly fine as Tyler Moss, a narcissistic popular novelist who stops by the bookshop every week to see how his books are selling. He has one problem...he can never remember Izzy's name! Providing much of the comedy is Jodi Freeman Maloy... excellent as Hannah, the flamboyant matchmaker. Maloy plays Hannah broadly with a full range of well developed (stereotypical?...but so what!) mannerisms.
Crossing Delancy is a fun presentation of the difficulties of meeting marriageable members of the opposite sex....well told, well acted.
Creative credits: Todd Mills lighting design; Larry Wilbur sound design; Sheila Rees costumes; Brian James Grace hair/makeup; Greg Moran set design; and Megan Lo Bue & Mary Laido co-stage managers.
Remaining evening performances are at 8PM on Fridays 9/25, 10/2, and Saturdays 9/19, 9/26, 10/3. Matinee performances are at 2PM Sundays 9/20, 9/27. Tickets are $18 (senior/student tickets are $16 on matinees only).
The Barn Theatre is located on Skyline Drive in Montville, NJ, just minutes off Exit 47 from Route 287. For more reservations, information or directions, call The Barn Theatre Box Office at (973) 334-9320, or visit The Barn Theatre on the web at www.barntheatre.org.
"A warm and loving addition to the growing body of Jewish dramatic work in this country." - Jewish Post and Opinion