It’s tough to be an underemployed gay actor in Los Angeles. One day you’re the mayor of Disneyland’s Toon Town, the next you’re hiding your junkheap of a car behind the hedge at some rich person’s estate in Malibu, hoping to glean a job as the retail presence in an underground shopping mall.
It’s all just too embarrassing until you learn the rich employer is none other than Barbra Streisand. This is the pot of gold at the end of Alex More’s (Nick Cearley) rainbow. Although sworn to secrecy, Alex can’t wait to tell his boyfriend Barry, which is how Buyer & Cellar, Jonathan Tolins‘s over-the-top one-man show unfolds on Portland Center Stage‘s Ellyn Bye Studio stage.
Tolins’s 2013 Off-Broadway comedy pays homage to his idol, Barbra Streisand, and was inspired by her 2010 book My Passion for Design. Although the star does indeed have an underground area consisting of small “shops” to store her collections, the world presented in Buyer & Cellar is pure flight of fancy and provides generous opportunities to laugh out loud.
What a world it is! It’s a treat to be immersed in this fantastical place, as foreign to us as Hogwarts! Nick Cearley’s work as Alex is pure genius. He shares incidents, conversations, arguments, and other titillating tidbits with just the right touch–sometimes generously, and sometimes, one feels, a bit stingily. This is his eighth production of Buyer & Cellar, and he is delighted to have performed the role more times than any other actor apart from original cast member Michael Urie.
PCS associate artistic director Rose Riordan directs the production. Set and lighting design by Kristeen Willis Crosser are feminine, elegant, and lavender, while Will Cotter’s projection design yields an air of detail and as well as mystery.
Buyer & Cellar runs through March 3 in the Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage.