Theater review: ‘The Assembled Parties’ shines with warmth, Light

From left: Jessica Hecht, Jeremy Shamos and Judith Light raise a glass in "The Assembled Parties." Credit: Joan Marcus
From left: Jessica Hecht, Jeremy Shamos and Judith Light raise a glass in “The Assembled Parties.”
Credit: Joan Marcus

Jews celebrating Christmas, without a Chinese restaurant in sight: It would seem like a premise without much promise. But in “The Assembled Parties,” at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, playwright Richard Greenberg turns gossamer into gold, with a healthy dose of warmth and humor. Sparkling performances from Jessica Hecht and Judith Light make his witty Yuletide banter shine all the brighter.

In a rambling apartment on the Upper West Side, Julie (Hecht), sister-in-law Faye (Light), son Tim (Alex Dreier or Jake Silbermann), and family friend Jeff (Jeremy Shamos) share two Christmas dinners 20 years apart. The first, in 1980, is widely attended; in 2000 it’s just the foursome. Both are hosted by Julie, who gave up a brief but brilliant film career to raise a family. And family is what the play’s about. Julie and Faye have known the joy and especially the pain of marriage and motherhood, with their attendant compromises, disappointments and losses.

Greenberg gives acerbic Faye a string of zingers, which Light delivers impeccably. She’s a riot. But the play belongs to Julie, the woman-child both knowing and naive. Hecht captures all her contradictions with gentle grace. And Shamos, as a friend of Julie’s older son half in love with her, adds a note of quiet, steadfast support.

A little light in substance, “The Assembled Parties” is sometimes heavy-handed in exposition. But its spirit — Julie’s embrace of life as beautifully embodied by Hecht — transcends its minor flaws.

If you go

‘The Assembled Parties’
On sale through June 2
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre,
261 W. 47th St.
$67-$120,
www.manhattantheatreclub.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.