by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
Directed by Doug Hughes
Starring Rosemary Harris, Jan Maxwell, Reg Rogers
Ana Gasteyer, John Glover and Tony Roberts
A Production of the Manhattan Theatre Club
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre / 47th Street West of Broadway

Reviewed by David Spencer

Apologies for this review being so absurdly short. I have a second gig as critic for the new Times Square Chronicles, where a limited word count has me covering things more compactly, and being crunched for time, I've taken the liberty of simply borrowing my T2C capsule. That's the bad news. The good news is, I very much liked The Royal Family and what's most important about the remounting of a classic American comedy is that you know whether or not it's worthwhile. And this one is.

In addition to Oleanna, director Doug Hughes (busy man) is also reprersented on Broadway this season by The Royal Family, a splendid revival of the 1927 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy about an acting dynasty, the Cavendishes—conspicuously modeled on the Barrymores. Set in their NYC duplex apartment, which might as well be a mansion (as scrumptiously designed by John Lee Beatty), it’s a confection about the balance between “real life” and theatre. Of course it isn’t much of a contest, the emerging point being that what’s “real” has more to do with passion than conventionality. Standouts in an impressively sterling cast include Rosemary Harris as the matriarch, Jan Maxwell as the clan’s reigning leading lady, and Reg Rogers as her exuberantly roguish movie-star brother.

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