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This article by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the August 29,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
New York: `If You Ever Leave…’
Writers and actors Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna are
celebrating 36 years of marriage and their professional partnership
at the Cort Theater with a show they call "If You Ever Leave Me,
I’m Going With You!" By happy coincidence my wife, LucyAnn, and
I are also celebrating 36 years of marriage. This fact alone did not
make us particularly predisposed to like the couple’s nostalgic and
mostly funny collection of skits and reminiscences culled from their
films, plays, video clips, and home movies. What we did find special
and touching about this show is the endearing and relaxed way these
entertainers have chosen to share with us their lifetime of comedy,
romance and togetherness. That the couple makes a point of renewing
their vows every year in a different religion is shown in a rather
hilarious montage of home movies. And, as an added bonus, the end
of the show finds the couple taking their vows yet again. And you
may be the one to catch the bouquet.
Taylor and Bologna, who most recently appeared Off-Broadway in their
comedy "The Bermuda Avenue Triangle," have enjoyed success
as actors both together and apart. But it is their writing partnership
— and especially their marital relationship — that has
such funny and lauded scripts as "Lovers and Other Strangers,"
"Made for Each Other," and "It Had to Be You."
Although their tradition of stand-up shtick and skits goes back to
the glory days of TV as guests on the Sid Caesar and Milton Berle
shows (fondly shown in brief clips), their intention is share their
romantics beginnings, argumentative natures, and sense of humor. This
includes the shock waves sent through Taylor’s Jewish family and
Italian family when they announce their engagement. The wedding clip
— the reception was actually held live on TV’s Merv Griffin Show
— in which each family’s ethnic identity is emphasized through
music is a hoot.
The couple give pasta the credit for the longevity of their happiness.
As Taylor explains: "We have pasta at least three times a week.
Even when I have a headache." And while Taylor and Bologna get
their individual turns as comic raconteurs, as a couple they shine.
Within Kenneth Foy’s setting representing a lifetime of accumulated
props, costumes, trunks, bags and bric-a-brac, Taylor and Bologna
change costumes, hats, and accessories to stage their program of
While the wit and humor is more consistent with the older material,
their performance style is polished enough to overcome the crudeness
of some of the scripts. But it all goes by so fast, with friendly
good-natured kvelling and kvetching, that you may not even get to
consider what the point of the show is. Actually there is much to
learn from this couple that has learned to live together, work
and number their arguments. I won’t spoil that one for you.
Bronx-born Taylor is know for her television stint as "The
mother, while Brooklyn-born Bologna has been a familiar face in films,
most recently as Adam Sandler’s father in "Big Daddy." The
couple rose to fame with their Broadway show "Lovers and Other
Strangers," and the film version for which they earned a best
Taylor’s penchant for whining and her nasal voice are complimented
by Bologna’s still-devilishly suave man-about-town tone. Whether
playing the reluctant groom and his inflexible bride, or parents
to convince their son to stay married — "Don’t go looking
for happiness, it’ll only make you miserable" — old or young,
poignant or peppery, Taylor and Bologna are unquestionably made for
each other. We liked it, because we feel the same way. Two stars.
Maybe you should have stayed home.
— Simon Saltzman
138 West 48th Street, New York. Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or
212-239-6200. $30 to $65.
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