I’m not a theater critic. I don’t pretend. But any educated person with any taste who has seen The Philanthropist should agree with me on this: someone needs to take Matthew Broderick out back and put him out of his misery. Aside from the bland production, negligible staging, tepid sound and overall uninspired script, Broderick’s lackluster performance as Philip (get it? the Phil-anthropist? God I love unnecessary adaptations of Moliere classics.) was so goddamn boring I fell asleep. Twice. In the first fifteen minutes. A few days later, hungover and watching tv, I came across Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It was the big, glorious parade scene—you know the one. I yawned. God, I guess he was never that good. All this time he was banking of the understated ambivalence of a teenager. What a crock. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, former West Wing and Juno star Allison Janney knows how to tear up the set of 9 to 5: The Musical. Don’t get your hopes up: the woman can’t sing. But lord know she tries, and–pardon my implied sexual harassment joke–she really works her ass off. I was third row center, and I wanted to reach out and give her my sleeve to wipe her forehead with. As one of the three womyn who want to off their boss and take over the company, Janney is noticeably the weakest of the bunch. But playing the power broker, the woman with the brains, she somehow manages to get away talk-singing with a knowing nod and an extra deep breath. So what if she’s no triple threat? Janney’s stage presence alone makes me want to promote her.
There is something to be said about seeing a big name on Broadway. You will, more often than not, sacrafice the quality of a virtual unknown who can sing the pants off any big shot producer in order to see a celeb who may or may not own the stage. That’s why I’m a publicist and not a full time blogger. And that’s why the big kids eventually go crawling back to the screen. The applause is nice, but the money’s nicer.