‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Sunday, December 09, 2012

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)
Clifford Odets’ classic drama Golden Boy re-opened on Broadway on December 6th and Bartlett Sher (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, South Pacific) directs this 75th Anniversary production in the very same theater in which it premiered. Golden Boy was originally written in 1937 and a movie was made from the play in 1939, which marked William Holden’s film debut. In later years, the story was re-written to reflect the burgeoning Civil Rights movement and re-opened on Broadway in 1964 with Sammy David Jr. in the lead role. This 75th Anniversary production reverts back to the original story with Seth Numrich (Warhorse) in the role of Joe Bonaparte and Tony Shalhoub in the role of Mr. Bonaparte.

Odets’ son, Walt Odets provides the perfect introduction to the play in an essay he wrote entitled “With Music I’m Never Alone When I’m Alone”: “In Golden Boy, my father, Clifford Odets, gave Joe Bonaparte two possibilities. Joe could remain a violinist or he could follow the lure of money and public adoration to become a prizefighter. He could have an authentic, fulfilled life or an empty one. It is important that the authentic path offered is a life in music.

Seth Numrich does a wonderful job capturing the inner-turmoil of an angry young man, desperate to make a name and a place for himself in the world. Bonaparte is a concert-level violinist but there is probably no opportunity for him to use this talent to break out of the Italian-American ghetto where he lives or to prove himself to his father. As such, Bonaparte, “the cockeyed wonder”, aggressively sells himself to down-and-out boxing manager Tom Moody. Once Moody gives Bonaparte his chance in the boxing ring, Bonaparte slowly moves to the ‘dark side’ in a familiar morality story. While Joe seems to be an adequate boxer, his key asset is that his opponents aren’t able to stand against his anger and rage, which manifest themselves with a mighty punch. Bonaparte continues to move down this path of no return and finally breaks after killing a man in the ring. This is Joe’s breaking point for he now sees what he has become and that the option of going back to his music is closed off to him.

‘Golden Boy’: Broadway Review (Directed by Bartlett Sher)

Tony Shalhoub is brilliant in his role as Joe’s father – an uncompromising voice of right and wrong and the audience can feel his pain when Joe will not accept a violin that Mr. Bonaparte had scrimped and saved for. Given Mr. Bonaparte’s rigid morality, it is little wonder that he refuses to give his blessing to Joe to pursue a career as a boxer. The other standout role is Lorna Moon (played by Yvonne Strahovski), a self-professed “dame from Newark” who is also caught in her own moral dilemma – mistress to Joe’s manager who saved her from the streets so she feels a sense of obligation to him and her love for Joe.

Golden Boy is playing at Lincoln Center Theater at the Belasco (111 West 44th Street) and runs until Jan. 20th. Tickets are available through Telecharge and range from $37 - $122.

Golden Boy