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Honeymoon in Vegas

Matthew Saldivar as Johnny Sandwich & Tony Danza as Tommy Korman   photos by Jerry Dalia

                                     by Joel Benjamin

When a show is so well constructed that even the scenery elicits guffaws, you forget that it’s a helium-weight entertainment, without a serious thought in sight.  Except…Honeymoon in Vegas is about something—love in all its forms:  romantic, obsessive and, most of all, mother love, the kind that eats at its main character, Jack Singer’s brain and heart.  Jack, played by the energetic, but cuddly Bob McClure (of recent Chaplin fame) has been wooing the lovely and patient Betsy Nolan (Brynn O’Malley). 

Rob McClure as Jack Singer & Nancy Opel as Bea Singer

Unfortunately, he is haunted by a promise he was coerced into giving to his overbearing mother, Bea (a wildly broad Nancy Opel) on her deathbed.  He swore that he would never, ever, ever, ever marry.  The demented running theme of Honeymoon becomes Bea’s ghost, in its many and various forms, sabotaging Jack and Betsy.

The musical Honeymoon in Vegas follows the scenario of the 1992 film but is warmer and a lot more fun.  As in the original Jack has wooed Betsy for years and finally decides to take the marriage plunge in Las Vegas where everything that can go wrong goes wrong, including losing a vast amount of dough in a set-up poker game presided over by the semi-gangster Tommy Korman (a game, likeable Tony Danza) who falls for Betsy because she looks like his late wife Donna who died from a super-duper case of skin cancer.  Tommy offers to forget the gambling debt if Jack can persuade Betsy to spend the weekend with him in Hawaii.  Betsy acquiesces reluctantly, but just as she is getting used to Tommy’s luxurious life style, she realizes she’s been taken in and tries to escape. 

Tony Danza as Tommy Korman & Brynn O’Malley as Betsy Nolan 

Jack, having decided to save his lady fair, manages to get to Hawaii—too late.  After a wonderfully funny encounter with airline ticket agents, he finds that his only way to get back to Las Vegas and marry the love of his life is to hitch a ride on an airplane full of singing Elvises.  Little does Jack know, but these Elvises are also the skydiving Elvises.

Does Jack save his beloved?  Does Tommy get his comeuppance?  Does Bea ever leave poor Jack alone to enjoy his terrific Betsy?  Of course.

But it’s how book writer Andrew Bergman and songwriter Jason Robert Brown spin the original material that keeps the audience in stitches, helped by Denis Jones’ smart choreography and Gary Griffin’s spirited direction.  Tommy is a bit less of a brute in this musical than in the film and Tony Danza, whose valiant singing is endearing, softens his hard edges.  Rob McClure is totally endearing as is Brynn O’Malley.  They both are enchantingly likeable.  Nancy Opel makes Bea more palatable than she ought to be, while Matthew Saldivar’s Johnny Sandwich (né Johnny Foccacia!), Tommy’s right hand man, is far from a monochromatic goomba.  David Josefsberg plays several slick Las Vegas types, including the lead Elvis, with a feel for their witty sleaziness.  The entire cast, most of whom are called upon to play several parts requiring split-second costume changes, gives their all.

The afore-mentioned scenery and projections by Anna Louizos plus Brian Hemesath’s terrific, character-defining costumes add richness and color to the proceedings.

Honeymoon in Vegas is a sweet, witty show with just enough heartiness to keep it from floating away.

Nederlander Theatre
208 West 41st St. (just west of 7th Ave.)
New York, NY
Tickets:  877-250-2929 or
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Running time:  2 hr. 30 minutes, one intermission