This review of The Jackie Mason Musical: Both Sides Of A Famous Love Affair at Manes Studio Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 8 (2018) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
The Jackie Mason Musical: Both Sides Of A Famous Love Affair
Starring Sheba Mason
Composer/Playwright/Director: Ginger Reiter
Orchestrator/Arranger: Ike Reeves
Manes Studio Theatre
141 South Wellwood Avenue
Lindenhurst, New York 11757
The Jackie Mason Musical has played in Off-Broadway Theaters and Comedy Clubs in Manhattan and in Florida over the past few years, and now, it has finally come to Long Island. It does not star Jackie Mason but does star Sheba Mason, his daughter. The musical was written by Ginger Reiter, Sheba's mother, who slept with Jackie over many winter seasons whenever he was playing clubs in South Florida. Jackie Mason was a bit of a rascal back then, lining up women to sleep with, and giving them very little in return. Ginger Reiter held out hope that she was special. Perhaps she was one of his favorite "girlfriends" but he made it clear he had no interest in marriage or having children. Ginger used a diaphragm "most of the time," which eventually led to her having Sheba, who plays her mother in this production. Jackie met his daughter a few times but he had to be sued in order to get him to pay child support. They have been estranged ever since.
This is a very interesting musical I am certain you will enjoy. I highly recommend you see it especially if you have not seen any prior incarnations, which were produced under the name, The Jackie Mason Musical: 702 Punchlines & Pregnant. It tells the true story of Jackie and Ginger's "love affair" from Ginger's perspective but it also incorporates Jackie's viewpoint and is fair and balanced, in my opinion. The songs are catchy and fun to listen to. You probably will want to buy the CD. I am still trying to get a copy of the CD myself and Ginger caught me singing one of the numbers ("The Early Bird Special") even after the curtain call. A few new songs have been added in this version of the show and they have been incorporated seamlessly. Tickets cost $27.00 each and can be purchased by visiting www.StudioTheatreLI.com or by calling 631-226-8400. Get your tickets while they last. The show I attended was very close to being sold out. Ginger and Sheba hang out in the lounge after the show to meet the audience, answer questions, and sign autographs.
This production had a few negatives associated with it. The first was that during Act I, there was a problem with the spotlight. The actors were standing off mark and their faces were not fully illuminated. This was not corrected until Act II. Second, there were some inappropriate anachronistic references in the musical that were thrown in for some cheap laughs. They included a reference to cell phones, The Vagina Monologues, and to Nancy Pelosi. I personally feel the play would have been better off without them. Finally, I want to make it clear that if this is the first time you are seeing the musical, you will probably enjoy David R. Gordon's impersonation of Jackie Mason. Your mind will adjust for his insufficiencies in timing and cadence and you will hear Jackie Mason in your head. However, if you have heard many Jackie Mason impersonators over the decades, you will be forced to conclude that Mr. Gordon falls in the bottom 10% of them. Listening to him was pure torture but then, that is only my opinion. You may disagree. Perhaps I am being hard on him because I saw Ian Wehrle play the part in previous productions. Mr. Wehrle falls in the top ten percent of Jackie Mason impersonators and looks the part as well. I strongly urge Sheba Mason to use her influence to bring Ian back as soon as possible. The show needs him and if he does come back before the run ends on July 8, 2018, I will return a second time just to see him perform the part. I should add that all the remaining actors in this musical exhibited extraordinary talent and superior singing ability.
As of last night, Studio Theatre Long Island changed its name to Manes Studio Theatre due to a generous contribution it received from Dr. Harvey Manes, M.D., an orthopedic surgery specialist whose practice is Wellwood Orthopedics located at 256 North Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst. Dr. Manes specializes in sports medicine, pain management, arthritis, and arthroscopic surgery. He is a well-known patron of the arts on Long Island.