When I walked into the Longacre Theatre to catch last Saturday’s evening performance of The Performers, I was not sure what to expect of a play centered on the adult film industry (a politically correct way of saying porn). I was probably expecting something funny, light, raunchy, and not at all relatable, seeing that I’ve never been employed in the adult film industry myself. After walking around the desolate streets of NYC status post Hurricane Sandy, I wasn’t opposed to any of the above expectations as long as it provided me with a few laughs! What I found at the Longacre Theatre was more heartwarming, hilarious, and normal than I’d ever expected. Keep reading if you want to find out why....
Synopsis: In this romantic comedy, high school sweethearts Lee, a journalist, and Sara, a schoolteacher, have finally become engaged and decide to spend a night in Las Vegas for the Adult Film Awards so that Lee can interview his former high school classmate, Mandrew, an adult film star who has been nominated for several awards. Mandrew’s wife and fellow adult film star, Peeps, is dealing with her own insecurities after she learns she is pregnant. After seeing Mandrew and Peep’s seemingly racy and exciting lifestyle, Lee and Sarah begin to doubt their relationship and plans for the future, while Peeps questions her own relationship with Mandrew and wonders if conservative is the way to go. Enter Chuck Wood, a man with years of experience in the Adult Film business who accidentally becomes caught in the middle of these feuding couples, and ultimately helps them to resolve their issues. And they all live happily ever after (we hope).
Comments: First and foremost, this show is hilariously funny. Unless you are extremely conservative, I can’t imagine someone not laughing steadily through the entire show. The surprise is the balance between humor and heart. The Adult Film Industry is merely a backdrop that is often forgotten as the story delves deeper into the relationships between the characters.The Performers isn’t really about porn- it’s about human relationships, love, and vulnerability. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a life-changing play, but something tells me that’s not what the audience is looking for at The Performers. The audience will get the laughs they want, and hopefully something a little more heartwarming than they were expecting!
Besides having amazing abs, Cheyenne Jackson was charming and likable as Mandrew. He didn’t portray Mandrew as the stereotypical porn star, and brought out a more misunderstood side of the character. Ari Graynor stole the show as Peeps simply because of her impeccable comedic timing. Jenni Barber also provided many laughs as the more “stereotypical” porn star, Sundown LeMay. Alicia Silverstone and Daniel Breaker were good together as Sara and Lee and both played the “repressed” sides of the characters very well. I particularly enjoyed Sara’s drunk scene with Henry Winkler, who impressed me with his ability to play a porn star at the age of 67. Overall, the six characters had good chemistry and played off of one another very well.