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
News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

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.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

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.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

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

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.