Enter Laughing is a play by Joseph Stein. It is based on the semi-autobiography of entertainment icon Carl Reiner. It is a heartwarming coming of age play, now onstage at The Toronto Centre for the Arts . It’s a great comedy with great acting. It is as universal and relevant as ever.
Set in New York City in the 1930s, Enter Laughing debuted on Broadway in 1963. It certainly adheres to the classic, clean comedy style of a bygone era. It’s hard not to call it “good, clean fun”. It is the story of David Kolowitz, who is trying to break into show business while juggling three girlfriends.
Carl Reiner is an American treasure. He’s been in show business for 65 years. He’s worked with many of the legends of film and television. His colleagues include Dick Van Dyke, Sid Caesar, George Burns and Steve Martin. He is certainly one of the icons of The Golden Age of Television. Enter Laughing does not stray from that genre.
Kian Marandi plays the lead. I thought he did a great job of reminding us what it was like to be young and eager to take on the world. I could relate to him as a friend, whether he was toiling away at a menial job or dating pretty women. He reminded me a bit of David Steinberg. At times I could have sworn that Marandi had transformed into Martin Short. Marandi studied Engineering at University of Toronto, so he’s a quite impressive young man!
The sets are simple but quite effective. A couple of wooden benches and an antique sewing machine really give the feel of a small machine shop. A table and pictures on the wall take us back to the Kolowitz’ kitchen. Like any great kitchen, it comes alive with vivid, familiar faces. In Enter Laughing, David and his parents (Judy Gans and Larry Westlake) and are the ones to be thanked for bringing life to the humble kitchen.
Oddly, one of the minor things we thought could be improved is the time it takes changing sets. The delays took a bit of the momentum away and made the story seem less hectic than it could have.
Enter Laughing is chock full of strong characters and strong acting. David’s employer, Mr. Foreman (Harry Hochman) is almost David’s second father. Mr. Foreman is a throwback, a bit of a cartoon, but an endearing one. The character, and Hochman’s portrayal reminded me a bit of Billy Crystal playing an older man.
David dreams of becoming an actor while his parents dream of him going to pharmacy school. At the same time, he is dating three women, all of them intriguing and sexy. Wanda (Sara Jackson) is David’s girlfriend. She is the girl next door. Miss B (Lainie Elton) is a bombshell that teenage boys lust after. Angela (Kathleen Pollard) is a captivating seductress. She plays opposite David after he lands a role in a play. Angela’s dressing room is a place I would love to visit again!
Enter Laughing is described as “full of Jewish humour”. I think the humour is universal and you certainly don’t have to be Jewish to have a great time.
Enter Laughing will have you leaving laughing. It is a big breath of fresh air!
- Enter Laughing is playing at Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre (5040 Yonge Street) until May 5, 2012
- Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM
- Tickets are $28.00 to $29.50
- Tickets are available online or in person