We watched the musical Mr. Saturday Night starring Billy Crystal on Broadway HD last week. Can’t say anyone who stayed until the end (we lost two viewers before the end of act one) dug the show.
Mr. Saturday Night based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which also starred Crystal, was a critical and commercial dud. I don’t know why anyone thought a musical needed to be made from the material. David Paymer scored an Oscar nomination for the film, but he’s wasted in the stage version with barely anything to do. Heaven forbid anyone should outshine Buddy.
Oh, Buddy…. He’s the show’s biggest problem.
The musical centers on Buddy Young Jr, an unfunny comic who cracks jokes that are supposedly shocking but really aren’t. Buddy is a horrible person…a spoiled brat who treats his family like dirt and only cares about earning laughs from strangers. I don’t know why anyone thought audiences would want to spend 2.5 hours with this character…much less cheer for him. I’m not sure if he’s a worse comic or a worse person. Whatever the case, he’s constantly throwing temper tantrums then being rewarded for his shitty behavior, and we’re supposed to be happy for him.
The movie didn’t need to be musicalized. The songs are unnecessary and barely move the plot forward. There’s never tension introduced in the show because you know that Buddy will act like an asshole and get everything he wants.
The terrific Randy Graff got stuck in the thankless role of Buddy’s patient wife. Shoshana Bean had the show’s most interesting character as Buddy’s long neglected daughter, Susan, but like Graff, she deserved better.