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
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

Philadelphia principal has President Obama's ear

The West Philadelphia head is gathering ideas to present to the White House.

Local

Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

Movies

Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival. We mean that in the best possible way. The…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Eagles will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas, play four…

The Eagles have an impressive, challenging and exciting schedule in 2014.

NFL

NFL releases Eagles 2014 schedule

The Eagles have four primetime games, face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and host the Seahawks in a dynamic, challenging and impressive schedule.

NHL

All signs suggest Steve Mason will start in…

Flyers head coach Craig Berube elected to put Steve Mason in net for the final minutes of Game 3.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."