Buyer & Cellar
Few actors can convey sarcasm in one sentence and sincerity the next as seamlessly as Broccoli, and all the while keeping the audience hanging on every word.by Christopher Verleger, EDGE
Late comedian George Carlin famously talked about people’s “stuff,” like what they do with it, where they keep it and why they have it. If you’re entertainment icon Barbra Streisand and you’ve collected countless awards, costumes and trinkets throughout your illustrious career, apparently you open a shopping mall in the basement of your home.
“Buyer & Cellar,” Jonathan Tolins’ hilarious, heartfelt one-man show, now downstage at 2nd Story Theatre and starring Kevin Broccoli in a role tailor-made for the tremendously talented performer, is about a young aspiring actor who forges a friendship of sorts with the Funny Girl after he is hired to run a store in the basement mall of her Malibu residence.
Tolins was inspired to write this fictitious piece after a brief meeting with Streisand during a performance of one of his plays and then later reading her coffee table book, “My Passion for Design,” where he became fascinated with her tchotchke collection and how it is arranged and displayed like a storefront in the living quarters of the legendary singer and actress.
Simply put, Broccoli is absolutely fabulous as Alex More, a witty, whimsical wannabe star who lives with his boyfriend, Barry, in California. Directed by the equally resplendent Lara Hakeem, Broccoli walks on stage, introduces himself to audience (complete with snapshots of his previous performances in the background) and reminds everyone that what follows is not based on actual events.
For the next 80 minutes, Alex More shares details, provides commentary and waxes philosophic on his life as a struggling actor, previous places of employment (most notably, Disneyland), and his latest role — first as Barbra Streisand’s in-house shop boy, and then her resident sounding board.
Early on, Alex confesses he does not meet the gay male Streisand fan stereotype (like Barry) — he even has mixed feelings about Judy Garland — but after a series of store visits and casual over-the-counter banter, he establishes (what he believes to be) a rapport with the director of “Yentl” and “The Prince of Tides.”
Alex acknowledges that spending time discussing a revival of “Gypsy,” among other things, with his employer (and only customer) is strange, however privileged it may seem, but between his catty wisecracks and on-point observations, this experience helps him define — or rather, rethink — how one achieves fame, celebrity and a sense of accomplishment.
Few actors can convey sarcasm in one sentence and sincerity the next as seamlessly as Broccoli, and all the while keeping the audience hanging on every word, wondering what the next meeting with the superstar will bring.
The time spent with Alex in “Buyer & Cellar” proves to be surprisingly informative, profoundly poignant and remarkably amusing. So it’s the laughter we will remember.