Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Outsider Fighting for His Place in 'Golden Boy'


generation has to find its own way.

For immigrants’ sons who carry their fathers’ foreignness within them, belonging to America is a struggle. The ambition, like Joe Bonaparte’s (Seth Numrich) in “Golden Boy,” is to “show ‘em all.”

Joe has a particularly thick streak of resentment. His chosen path to glory is with his fists to the dismay of his father (Tony Shalhoub) whose gift to his son is music. Joe, the City’s top young teen violinist, is looking for a very different kind of championship. Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy,” at the Belasco Theatre in a Lincoln Center Theater revival through 20 Jan., pits the humanism of music against the noisy brutality of prize fighting. (See video above.)

As he commits himself to fighting, Joe also falls in love with Lorna Moon (Yvonne Strahovski), the girl of his manager Tom Moody (Danny Mastrogiorgio).

Joe (Seth Numrich) warms up with Tokio (Danny Burstein) to the seeming satisfaction of Tom (Danny Mastrogiorgio) in "Golden Boy." Photos by Paul Kolnik.

The cleverly designed sets by Michael Yeargan, which truck out on platforms for each scene change, are at once detailed and stylized. Catherine Zuber’s costumes add to the sense of time and place in “Golden Boy.”

Director Bartlett Sher and the superb cast in this “Golden Boy” honor the period of the piece in every facet of the work presented on the stage. In its juxtaposition of music and prize fighting, no one wins. This production focuses on the tragedy of discontent.

These characters speak in Runyonesque tones. YS, an Australian, impresses with her tough talk and no-nonsense demeanor. Her Lorna is blessed with some delicious dialogue, as in an early exchange with Moody. “Go to hell,” Lorna says. “But come back later tonight.”

Tony Shalhoub, Seth Numrich, Dagmara Dominczyk and Michael Aronov bring to life bygone days in "Golden Boy."

In a cast that deftly immerses itself in the 1930s in which “Golden Boy” is set, SN and DM stand out, along with Michael Aronov as Joe’s feisty brother-in-law, Siggie.

In its original production in 1937, also at the Belasco, “Golden Boy” played for two Broadway seasons. The LCT production is both a celebration of CO’s masterful all-American playwriting and a homecoming.

Visit to learn more about "Golden Boy."

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