New in 2012 Roundabout presents the Broadway premiere of Marc Camoletti's French bedroom comedy, a sequel to his hilarious Tony-winning farce "Boeing-Boeing." Closes June 17th.
The Broadway production of Don't Dress For Dinner closed June 17, 2012. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
According to the theatre, "Don't Dress for Dinner" is a "wildly funny comedy about a husband, a wife, a lover, a mistress and a cook thrown together in the same house for one riotous weekend."
Marc Camoletti wrote "Boeing-Boeing" (about a bachelor who tries to juggle romances with three stewardesses) in 1960 and its sequel, "Don't Dress for Dinner" (originally "Pyjamas Pour Six" but re-titled for English-speaking audiences), in 1962. Both premiered in Paris and had long, successful London runs in the 60s.
"Boeing-Boeing" had a Broadway run in the 60s as well as a 2009 revival that won a Tony Award, but "Don't Dress for Dinner" never made it to NYC. Accordingly, this production marks both the 50th Anniversary for "Pyjamas Pour Six" and the Broadway premiere for "Don't Dress for Dinner."
Director John Tillinger and members of the producing team discuss the play:
What's the Roundabout? One of the great nonprofit dreadnoughts of the New York theater scene, the Roundabout has three Broadway venues and an Off-Broadway stage in midtown. Prominent artists are usually engaged, significant work is usually done, and even at the smallest of the theaters, the work has the uniform quality that one would expect from such a large and prominent shop. More here.
Camoletti's farce is in the same zany vein as his "Boeing-Boeing" but much, much limper. It opened under the direction of Tillinger with its madcap forced and sparks missing. It's tired, warmed-over farce that involves seltzer spraying, imaginary insects, boob jokes, loads of alcohol, people jumping over sofas, and the cast running around in dressing gowns. It's all very predictable and really not funny. Kayden steals the show with her over-the-top French accent and deadpan response to having to increasingly handle more and more twists from this loony bunch.
Camoletti's often hilarious farce...Suzanne [is] played with a well-earned sense of comic entitlement by Tilly. Kayden's [is] a striking comic performance precisely because it's so plausibly grounded in the real world. Would that everyone in the production followed that lead. Even in farce, it's better to underplay, to leave yourself something to build to when the comedy grows truly physical and over the top. While the mayhem in "Dinner" never rises to the dizzying heights of "Boeing-Boeing," there are plenty of gut-busting moments to savor.
New York Daily News
In foodie terms, this modestly amusing play by Camoletti would never be mistaken for a gourmet fare. It's nearer to Applebee's than Per Se. But there are a few good chuckles, an inspired sight gag involving a costume and a delicious comic turn by Spencer Kayden. It all combines to goose things in the right direction. If you don't find infidelity funny, "Dinner" isn't for you. There are some dry patches, but director Tillinger keeps thing moving fairly lickety-split. One wishes he'd found a way to make more out of the country-house setting.
New York Magazine
The gags all unfold at half-speed. Sex farces are always on the precipice of being merely irritating, and casting them to ensure complete sexlessness is a great way to tip them into the abyss. Daniels and Kalember have no spark whatsoever; James is merely a ball of smarm. Tilly is Tilly - that is why you hire her. But she adds nothing. There's an ottoman downstage center, pulling focus, holding all the actors hostage, and even taking a bow in front of the curtain. By process of elimination, I nominate it the star of the show.
New York Post
"Dinner," [is] a sex farce more tangled than a plate of spaghetti. Actually, there isn't so much a story as a pileup of contrived lies, mistaken identities, random coincidences and physical entanglements. Yet despite all this frantic activity, this show is a slog. Tillinger's production fails to find a rhythm. And rhythm is essential in a show keeping many crazy balls in the air. There's plenty of time between laughs for the mind to wander. Happily, James and Kayden light things up.
New York Times
Subtlety is not a requirement - or even an asset - when playing farce, and the cast of "Don't Dress for Dinner" certainly makes no attempt to underplay. The verbal wit in the English adaptation by Hawdon is rather low. Most of the humor derives from the bawdy grappling among the various romantic partner. The farce lovers in the audience seemed to greet each new absurd convolution in the story with the desired guffaws, but for me the intensive labor involved rarely seemed to pay off in moments of inspired lunacy.
Spencer Kayden has a deadpan combination of daffiness and discipline that brings a merry dignity to the most idiotic routines. "Dinner" has the good sense to have Kayden in the ensemble of director John Tillinger's mug-fest. Tillinger subscribes here to the comic theory of hard-strain, in which jittery knees express boffo anxiety and sputtering consonants suggest the riot of a compromising position ahead. "Dinner" [is a] lame sex farce badly done.
Time Out New York
Due to an uneven ensemble, uninspired direction and a too talky script, the farcical magic never materializes. And not for lack of an extravagantly silly plot. You shouldn't be aware of time passing during a farce. Although individual actors carve out genuinely funny moments - Daniels becomes amusingly flustered, Tilly is sexily brazen, and Kayden wields a dangerous deadpan - you mainly wait for this busy, bland meal to end, so you can get dessert someplace else.
"Dinner" is sit-commy in its plotting, without any aspirations other than goofy comedy and sexual leering, but it still provides a healthy bunch of laughs in the process. The plot alone could make your head spin. Tillinger directs the cast to generally not overdo the artificiality of it all, and Spencer Kayden is particularly delightful as the French cook who's willing to play just about any role for 200 more francs. Act Two seems completely superfluous, it's a guiltily pleasurable sex farce that can be idiotically funny.
Wall Street Journal
When done well, it's a hoot, but Tillinger, the director, has made the amateurish mistake of encouraging his actors to troll aggressively for laughs instead of letting the situation generate them. Only Ms. Kayden resists the temptation to overegg the pudding, turning in a poker-faced performance that deserves to be remembered at Tony time. Everybody else carries on like Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace," which is the quickest possible way to kill a farce stone dead.