What makes a person a "Golden Boy?" The mass public; they simply look for the guy who can sell the image and then simply give him them the title. That’s what happens to Joe Bonaparte in Clifford Odet’s Golden Boy. One gets thrown to the top; however when things go sour, just see how fast people drop will drop you.
The plot revolves around 21-year-old Joe, a New York kid torn between music and boxing as the path to his success. Which road to choose? It's a classic conflict. Joe’s father, an Italian immigrant, played by Tony Shalhoub, wants his son to pursue playing the violin as his life and career, but Joe is drawn to brawling and the fame and fortune that it can bring. His choice brings sweet success, but only in the short run.
Seth Numrich (War Horse) plays Joe Bonaparte, the sensitive son whose hunger for the big-time American dream makes him choose between a life as Violin player and a professional boxer. In almost three hours, we watch an actor transform physically into a convincing fighting machine and, ultimately, to a barely recognizable monster of sharp edges and shadows. Numrich truly delivers another inspiring performance. Yvonne Strahovski, making her Broadway debut, played Lorna Moon - the love interest. Strahovski delivered a very simple performance that didn’t leave the audience feeling anything for her throughout the play; she was not a point of focus (other then when her accent would slip out). Danny Mastrogiorgio (A Steady Moon) and Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman) were the manager of Joe, Tom Moody, and Eddie Fuseli. Mastrogiogio and Cirvello were essentially good cop/bad cop and played off of each other very well. Cirvello was a bit cartoony at times making him difficult to take him seriously at times; while Mastrogiorgio seemed to sell his character more and more as the show went on. Mastrogiorgio and Strahovski were a love interest throughout the play but the audience wouldn’t know by their lack of attraction for each other. Tony Shalhoub (Lend Me a Tenor) played Mr. Bonaparte, the loving Italian father of Joe. Shalhoub ripped out the hearts of every audience member leaving everyone in tears. He delivers an incredible and Tony Award winning performance. Michael Aronov (Blood and Gifts) and Dagmara Dminczyk (The Violet Hour) portrayed over excited Siggie and adorable Anna, the madly in love married couple. Aronov and Dminczyk were the two people the audience wanted to watch; the chemistry on stage was impeccable. The ensemble stand out of the evening was Brad Fleischer (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) taking on the minor, but challenging role of Pepper White - washed up boxer. Fleicher was maybe in about ten minutes of the entire show; however that did not matter because he left the audience remembering Pepper White.
This production team is the dream team of Broadway; everything they created for the intense period show came over visually stunning. Directing this tough drama was Bartlett Sher (Blood and Gifts). Sher created great visual images and never left the audience feeling bored or lost (not once did Sher having us feeling the length of the three hour play). Catherine Zuber (South Pacific) did the costume design; it appeared as if Zuber ripped every costume piece out of a 1930’s movie, truly inspirational. The light design was done by Donald Holder (Annie). Holder has created many a mater piece and this is no exception to his recent designs, he created a comfortable and visual stunning atmosphere for the entirety of the show. Michael Yeargan (South Pacific) was responsible for the scenic design which was over all visually pleasing for a majority of the show but a lot of the time seemed 2 dimensional. Also a truck could have been driven through some of the set changes; every single one seemed to drag on to be what seemed to be forever. Thankfully the subpar set did not bring down the rest of the technical aspects.
Golden Boy embodies what there needs to be more of on Broadway. The performance was truly inspiring to watch and should not be missed by any serious theatre goer. Golden Boy runs through January 20, 2013 at the Belasco Theatre - don’t miss out.