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Buyer & Cellar

Buyer and Cellar is the latest off-Broadway offering from the good folks over at Mirvish. It’s a one man play being staged at the Panasonic theatre through November 30th. It won last year’s Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance.

This is a show that has a lot of fun with the personality and perceptions we have of one Ms. Barbra Streisand, Babs. If you think her voice is like butter, and you don’t mind catching your 14th screening of Yentl, this may be the show for you.

There is some truth and some fiction to this play. The truth: Barbra Streisand has a huge mansion with a real mall built in the basement. The mall has retail stores that contain all her stuff in the appropriate outlets. The Fiction: What if some out-of-work actor was asked to be the mall caretaker; on hand to haggle with Barbra over the stuff she already owns and dole out sundaes from the frozen yogurt machine? That’s the fiction.

Alex is that character and he was dreamed up by playwright Jonathan Tolins. Buyer and Cellar had a solid run in New York, and now comedic actor Christopher J. Hanke is in town at the Panasonic to play him.

He joined Garvia Bailey on Good Morning Toronto.

This is a really funny show, but it is specific. My favorite scenes have to be when Barbra and Alex start haggling over the price of a doll in her own doll shop. The scene takes place over several days in the play and the back and forth is absolutely hilarious, including Barbra showing up with a coupon. Ludicrous.

For all the laughs that land, I was in the dark for many of the Streisand references from her film career and private life. You would have to be a serious fan of that voice, that platinum hair and those coloured fingernails that Babs adorns to enjoy every joke. Christopher Hanke got a standing ovation on the night I caught the show, but I wouldn’t say the audience was rolling in the aisles. It’s clever, it’s humorous, it’s amusing and Hanke is great in his 100 solid minutes of stage time. For lovers of camp, fabulousness and Barbra, it’s a must.
Buyer and Cellar runs through the 30th at the Panasonic. for tickets.


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