TAYLOR AND BOLOGNA - FORTY YEARS AND HOLDING
By Esther Lynn
If you are married, have ever been married, or know anyone who is or has ever been married (like maybe your parents), some of the dialogue in this two person tour de force play will probably sound like things you have heard or said or quietly thought yourself ...only better and funnier. Currently playing at the Plaza Hotel, If You Ever Leave Me…I'm Going With You! is a "must see" for anyone who has been one-half of a couple.
Starring real-life husband and wife team, Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna, If You Ever Leave Me…I'm Going With You! focuses on the couple’s courtship, their six wedding receptions, and the ups and downs of their professional collaboration in theater. Highlights include scenes from their semi-autobiographical Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and films which include the 1970’s Lovers and Other Strangers, It Had To Be You, Acts of Love and Other Comedies, and Bermuda Avenue Triangle.
A celebration of comedy and marriage, If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going With You! made its debut at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills. When it opened at New York’s Cort Theatre on August 6, 2001, the date coincided with the 36th anniversary of its stars, Taylor and Bologna. Variety describes the show as "Hilarious," and calls it, "Theatrical Gold!"
Joe and Renee met through television host Merv Griffin on whose show Taylor was a regular during the mid 1960s. They fell in love and married after a three month whirlwind courtship. Joe is from a strong Italian Catholic family while Renee is Jewish. Their families believed it was like mixing oil and water and the marriage would never work. Merv decided to throw the wedding party on his daytime variety show. Both families showed up and everyone had a good time, with the Italians and Jewish guests dancing and eating together. Since the original ceremony, the couple have had four more weddings where they renewed their vows in different religions. Film clips from their numerous ceremonies are incorporated into the show. "A lot of people said this marriage wouldn’t last," states Taylor. "We were two of them," says Bologna. Obviously, this not-so-odd couple proved the naysayers wrong.
To many, Renee Taylor is best-known for her role as Sylvia Fine, Fran Drescher’s mom, on the CBS sitcom "The Nanny." Among Joe Bologna’s film credits, My Favorite Year, Blame it on Rio and Big Daddy, in which he played Adam Sandler’s father.
Written and directed by Bologna and Taylor, the show’s title comes from a moment during an argument when Renee wanted Joe out of the house. As Joe was starting to pack and leave she said "If you ever leave me, I’m going with you."
These two play off each other to perfection. Why not, they have been "rehearsing" the roles for four decades. Joe is a refined straight man, setting things up for Taylor who plays the ditzy comedienne, reminiscent of an old Burns and Allen routine, but on a more intelligent level. One of the most moving scenes in If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going With You! is when Bologna plays a sickly Florida retiree attempting to seduce Taylor. They end up comparing all of their health problems. There is also a segment with Joe talking to his non-present son who is thinking of divorcing his wife after 10 years of marriage. He advises the young man not to go looking for happiness, "It’ll only make you miserable."
Two of the secrets of Taylor and Bologna's successful marriage are pasta (three times a week, even if you have a headache) and comedy. Mr. And Mrs. Bologna are experts at putting audiences at ease. They write perceptive, honest stuff about married life. Some of it is painful but it is never cruel. All of it comes from the experience of living and loving. In If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going With You!, Taylor and Bologna have succeeded in capturing the special torment of fighting with someone you truly care about.
Go. See. Enjoy.
Plaza Hotel and Casino
7:00 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, through Sept. 11
$42.45 all inclusive
For reservations, call (702) 386-2110 or (800) 773-0992