Broadway Theater Review: BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (Cort Theatre)

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by Sarah Taylor Ellis on March 21, 2013

in Theater-New York


Richard Greenberg’s new theatrical adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s owes more of a debt to Truman Capote’s novella than to the iconic film starring Audrey Hepburn, but audiences will arrive to the Cort Theatre with certain expectations. In particular, one might expect a scene of Holly Golightly having breakfast at Tiffany’s. Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema Broadway review of Breakfast at Tiffany's at Cort TheatreAfter all, how else would this flighty woman fight away the “mean reds”?

Unfortunately, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is saddled with inchoate storytelling, including a notable lack of the Fifth Avenue jewelry store that gives Holly an escape from her small town past and her everyday woes.

Drawing inspiration from film noir, Greenburg and director Sean Mathias attempt a stylization of this 1940s New York story that is only occasionally effective. With jazzy underscoring by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, the play opens on our narrator Fred (Cory Michael Smith), a young aspiring writer with a warm Southern accent. New to the city and rather lonely, he becomes enchanted by his neighbor Holly, a seeming independent spirit who socializes with wealthy older men and returns to her apartment at all odd hours of the night.

Emilia Clarke is variously charming and irritating as Holly; just as her affected accent slips in and out, so does her magnetism on stage. In beautifully draped dresses by Colleen Atwood, Holly’s eyes twinkle; she twirls her foot elegantly and rhapsodizes about romantic adventures to her rapt devotee Fred. The audience is Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema Broadway review of Breakfast at Tiffany's at Cort Theatrenot always quite so rapt.

Yet Cory Michael Smith, who stunned earlier this season in Cock and The Whale, is a master of the bewildered, searching, and sexually confused young man. I often found myself most captivated watching Fred hang on Holly’s every word, spellbound by her stories.

Although Clarke, Smith, and the rest of the company offer fine performances, the material they have to work with lacks wit and humor throughout, and Act II is particularly fragmentary, with an awkward scene or two that should have been cut in previews. Derek McLane’s scenic design offers elegant apartment interiors and modular screens that can sweep in and out to create different settings, but Wendall K. Harrington’s projections are often unnecessary – and unnecessarily busy.

On the whole, this adaptation is so busy and confused as to miss the imaginative soul of the story. Instead of offering the audience a theatrical escape from their everyday lives, Breakfast at Tiffany’s leaves you hungry for a return to the book or film.

Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema Broadway review of Breakfast at Tiffany's at Cort Theatre

photos by Nathan Johnson

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Cort Theatre
scheduled to end on April 21, 2013
for tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit

{ 1 comment }

Jason Rohrer March 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Sounds like this adaptation could use a little Mickey Rooney.

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