Jason Alexander Seamlessly Transitions Into Lead Role in “Fish in the Dark”

Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend Fish in the Dark, Larry David’s Broadway smash-hit at the Cort Theatre located at 138 West 48th street.  What made this a wholly unique and exciting experience was that last night was Jason Alexander’s return to the Broadway stage after 25 years.

I had a great view of the stage while sitting front and center in the balcony last night.  Check out our Fish in the Dark Seating Chart for help finding which seats work best for you.

Fun Fact About Jason Alexander

Many of you know Jason Alexander as George Costanza, of Seinfeld fame.  What many of you may not know about Alexander is that he was actually plucked off of the Broadway stage way back in 1989 by Mr. David to join a show that Alexander said, “would change my life and career.”

Alexander was actually coming off of winning a Tony award as best leading actor in a musical for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway in 1989, so he certainly had the chops coming into this role, even with this being a straight play (can you imagine Larry David singing? I think they missed a golden opportunity, here).  David actually says that he wrote the lead role of Norman Drexel with Alexander in mind, but was persuaded by the play’s lead producer Scott Rudin to give it a shot himself.

This transition from one lead actor to another has had its fair share of skeptics.  I read some comments left on online articles announcing the switch back in March that called the move a “stunt casting,” and “sorry to say, Larry was the big draw…without him it won’t fly!”  If the packed house I was a part of last night was any indication of the buzz that will continue, it’s safe to say that those naysayers in the comment section were wrong.

You can find Cheap Fish in the Dark Tickets here.

The Artist Formerly Known as “Costanza”

Many people like the ones above will go into this play and have a difficult time disassociating Alexander from his Costanza character, and after attending this play, I can validate those concerns.  However, I couldn’t mean that in a more positive way, as Alexander’s familiar neurotic and bombastic portrayal of the show’s lead Norman Drexel, a urinal salesman who is dealing with the aftermath of the death of a loved one, was hilarious and perfect for this role.

This comedy focuses on a family in turmoil after the patriarch Sidney Drexel, played by Jerry Adler, passes away.  While this may sound like somber subject matter, the interplay between Alexander as Norman Drexel and the rest of his family is nothing short of brilliant, as they quibble over who has to take in their own mother as a new roommate (played wonderfully by Jayne Houdyshell), to who gets to inherit their very-recently-deceased father’s Rolex watch.

Alexander’s Smooth Transition

If you didn’t already know going into the play, you would never know that last night was Alexander’s inaugural show, as he displayed terrific chemistry with other members of the cast.  This was probably most evident by the way his character is perfectly juxtaposed with that of Ben Shenkman’s, who plays Norman’s brother Arthur, an already-stuffy lawyer that is dryer than a piece of toast when compared to the blustering Norman.  One would have a hard time believing that these two brothers grew up in the same side of the country, let alone within the same household.

There were a few moments in the play that you could just tell were an Alexander moment, and not simply a line or take written in for Norman.  One of the most evident examples was a scene in which Alexander executed a perfect tumble and roll–even the Russian judges gave it a 10.  I don’t think anyone could even imagine a 67-year-old Larry David trying to pull this off.  Alexander just put a few wonderful touches like this on the character that made the experience even better.

Jason Alexander’s admiration of Larry David is what inspired Alexander’s return to Broadway after such a long hiatus.  “If it was just [the role of] Norman, I don’t know that I would have done it,” he says.  “I had to look at this thing as a whole. No small part of it is that it’s Larry.  I owe so much of the quality of my life to him and his work.  The truth is, part of the reason I do things now is because it’s stupid fun.  This is the most perfect gig.”

Fortunately, for myself and other fans of excellent Broadway plays alike, the perfect gig and the perfect actor for this gig have come together as one.

Find your Fish in the Dark tickets today!

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