A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair : By: Ellis Nassour
In spite of the endless projections from all over NYC, even alley ways, A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair isn’t so much a love affair with NYC, but a story about love affairs. Bernadette Peters is in bed with Jeremy Jordan [certainly an interesting choice on director John Doyle’s part] and Norm Lewis; ditto Cyrille Aimée. Dancers Meg Gillentine, Tyler Hanes, Grasan Kingsberry, and Elizabeth Parkinson, supposedly counterparts/twins/ghosts of Peters, Lewis, Jordan, and Aimée, dance seductively -almost stealing the show, but Peters prevents that. That honor goes to her.
The show opens with the overture from Merrily We Roll Along and it’s endless with a middle section piano interlude that makes it seem even longer. The jazz arrangements are great, but the singers, except for Aimée, are Broadway; and except for Aimée, they’re wonderful. Aimée, adored by jazz devotees, doesn’t project, and in spite of her fame, has little stage presence.
This revue will appeal to either Marsalis or Sondheim fans. It shows, as was recently pointed out by Encores! artistic director Jack Viertel, commenting on how the collaboration took place, that Marsalis simply wasn’t familiar with Sondheim’s compositions. For a collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, surprisingly, there’re few uptempo moments; and the ballads, one after another, tend to drain life from the show. And that’s ironic since these are some of the most powerful and prized ballads from The Broadway Master.
Peters on the other hand is a dramatic and comic revelation – a tour de force from the time she enters, as she stumbles around, and even singing as she disappears into the wings. And in a form-fitting designer suit, a knockout [if it’s not hers, she has to purchase it!]. When she lets loose late in the 90 minute, no intermission show, she brings the house down and has audiences in convulsions. That Broadway Baby’s still got it; and for someone who really has nothing to prove, she proves she can easily reinvent herself. If there’s a reason to see this show, she’s it. And she is "it."