Moss Hart’s LIGHT UP THE SKY (@ Lyric Stage through June 13th.). is a creaky spoof of wacky theatrical folk, all of whom function in hyperbole. That “barrel” of a play is a bit worn and leaky by contemporary standards but what Lyric Stage puts in it is pure magic.
Director Scott Edmiston’s delightful production has a cast of comedians who seem to have walked right off a 1930s movie lot. Will McGarrahan as the effusive director of Alejandro Simoes dubious script even looks like Billy DeWolfe, the stalwart comic from those old screwball films. And when McGarrahan sits down at a piano, it’s as if Cole Porter or Noel Coward wrote their songs just for him. (Oops! I may have caught the hyperbolic flu myself!)
Just when you think no one could possibly upstage McGarrahan, enter Paula Plum as the highly strung leading lady (Is there any other kind?)—and ten minutes of hysterical sobbing becomes a virtuoso performance. The very thin plot, if you even can call it a plot, involves a play (which may flop pre-Broadway in its Boston tryout) and a mass exit from the sinking ship.
Add Will LeBow’s loud, opportunistic producer and Kathy St. George as his shopaholic wife and every line becomes a show stopping soliloquy. Bobbie Steinbach, too, has a field day as Plum’s scene stealing, opinionated mother. Richard Snee as our commiserating stand-in, gets to comment like a Greek chorus on the bizarre behavior on stage and Terrence O’Malley, as the real outsider, connected to the stage only by marriage, is struck dumbfounded by the outrageous goings on—and he gets laughs just by standing still.
The music (McGarrahan) adds immeasurably to the spirit of the production. Coward’s “Why Must the Show Go On” is the perfect punctuation to the abundance of laughter from a truly remarkable ensemble.