By: Sandi Durell


What I remember most about the 1992 comedy film, of the same name, are those hysterically funny flying Elvises. Now take that and add a book by Andrew Bergman and composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s creative juices and catchy, crafty lyrics and you’ve got a basically fun-filled evening.

image-2It’s pure Broadway fluff that gets your toes tapping (almost as much as Tony Danza) and your hands clapping at the Nederlander Theatre when nerdy, but loveable Jack Singer (Rob McClure), who has a strong fear of his Mama (a winning Nancy Opel) coming back from the grave to make sure he stays with the program to never marry (how could he possibly find a girl who could love him as much as she?), winds up losing $58K in a poker game in Vegas, where he’s finally gonna take the plunge with Betsy (Brynn O’Malley), and has to put up his sweet voiced fiance for a weekend with gambler Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) to forgive the debt. You see Korman sees Betsy in the hotel lobby in Vegas, is bowled over as she looks just like his dead wife Donna, and comes up with a plan of pursuit to woo her.

image-3McClure is a delicious cartoon of a Jewish nebbish as he sings and dances his way through promising Betsy that he’s almost ready, after five years, to walk down the aisle. But Mama is everywhere – rising from her deathbed at Tiffany’s as they go to buy a ring (very funny), haunting him in Hawaii (where Jack has followed Korman and Betsy on the weekend) and then brought to the Garden of Disappointed Mothers (fabulous costumes by Brian Hemesath) while sexy little Mahi (Catherine RIcafort), Korman’s decoy, tries to get him to do “Friki-Friki” and forget his troubles.

Tony Danza is reminiscent of old Blue Eyes himself as he croons his tunes and does a cool tap number while trying to persuade Betsy that she needs to marry him. A real audience-pleaser he is.  His right hand man Johnny Sandwich (Matthew Saldivar) is a hoot of a mob-style character.

The uber talented David Josefsberg does double duty as Buddy Rocky, the big band Vegas singer, and then as Roy Bacon, leader of the Flying Elvises. Here’s where it’s a laugh a minute highlight in Act II, where the lineup of Elvises – “Higher Love” and backup repeats of jump, jump, jumpity-jump make up for the few dead spots along the way. Kudos to director Gary Griffin on this one!

And that big band led by Tom Murray is a throwback to the era of Vegas of old. Choreographer Denis Jones doesn’t have a lot to do, but what he’s got is hot!

The in-your-face cartoonish set design by Anna Louizos is terrific as it morphs from Vegas stage and showgirls (Leslie Donna Flesner, Erica Sweany) to Tiffany’s, to an airport, the Milano Hotel, Hawaii and more, along with her projection design (wait till you see how those Elvises fly!). Lighting is by Howell Binkley with fun wig and hair designs by Charles G. LaPointe.

You won’t be disappointed, even with the few dead spots, over the 2 ½ hour production.

Photos: Joan Marcus