Theater review: Go on, get ‘Happy’

 

Jenna Fischer stretches her acting chops in live theater. Credit: Joan Marcus
Jenna Fischer stretches her acting chops in live theater.
Credit: Joan Marcus

Does TV’s Jenna Fischer have the chops for off-Broadway? She does, in spades. She’s as comfortable onstage at the Lucille Lortel as she was behind the reception desk on “The Office.” In “Reasons to Be Happy,” playwright/director Neil LaBute gives her a chance to stretch as Steph, a hair stylist who doesn’t hesitate to use the nearest male as a punching bag when the mood strikes.

But don’t think Fischer stands out – the rest of the cast is right there with her. The four-member ensemble, which also includes Josh Hamilton, Leslie Bibb and Fred Weller, is tight. And LaBute has given each a unique voice that sets them apart, yet brings them together, propelling the play through an obstacle course of humor and frayed feelings.

At center is Greg (Hamilton), Steph’s ex, a poster child for vacillation. Steph wants him back, but he’s gotten pretty, level-headed Carly (Bibb) pregnant. He’s got to make a choice, and choosing’s not his thing. So he bobs and weaves and stammers and evades and tries, with limited success, to stay out of the line of fire. Meanwhile, Kent (Weller), Carly’s ex and Greg’s kinda-sorta bud, wishes he could get back with Carly. He has the least stage time but the most laughs as a dumbed-down jock whose anger management issues make Steph seem like a pussycat.

“Reasons to Be Happy” is a sequel to LaBute’s “Reasons to Be Pretty” from 2009, but each play stands on its own. With its vivid characters and LaBute’s uncanny ear for dialogue, it’s a good reason … no, we’re not going to say it.

If you go

‘Reasons to Be Happy’
Through June 23
Lucille Lortel Theatre,
121 Christopher Street.
$69-$89, www.mcctheater.org


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.