Michael Urie in “Buyer & Cellar”

June 4, 2019


Theater Close-Up: Buyer & Cellar airs Monday, June 10 at 9 p.m. | Stream now

Michael Urie stars in Jonathan Tolins’ comedy Buyer & Cellar, from the Westport Country Playhouse, where the 2016 production was captured for television by THIRTEEN’s Theater Close-Up . This unique collaboration between THIRTEEN and New York City area non-profit Off-Broadway theaters removes any obstacles to seeing fantastic theater productions. Theater Close-Up films live performances expressly for THIRTEEN audiences; after the television broadcast, performances are available for online viewing, too. THIRTEEN is using its unrivaled expertise in producing national PBS arts programming to provide New Yorkers with unparalleled access to one of the city’s greatest underexposed cultural assets.

Michael Urie (Torch Song Broadway revival; Marc St. James on Ugly Betty) won the Drama Desk, Clarence Derwent, Lucille Lortel, and LA Drama Critics awards for originating the role of Alex, which he reprises for this performance.

In a city overflowing with struggling actors waiting for their big break, Alex (a fictional character) finds himself with one of the oddest jobs of all: working for a certain beloved lady of stage and screen named Barbra Streisand who has a mall in the basement of her Malibu mansion (which is true). The estate’s basement space has been turned into a private gallery of shops, displaying the star’s lifelong accumulation of rare collectibles. Before long, Alex finds himself hired as the lone clerk for this most exclusive of shopping malls. One day, the lady herself comes downstairs to admire the merchandise, and an unexpected friendship begins. It seems to Alex like a real bond is forging, but will their relationship survive the move upstairs?

In addition to playing Alex, Michael Urie takes on an assortment of other characters in a delightful rollercoaster ride through fame, friendship and the outer limits of Hollywood celebrity.

The Westport staging is helmed by Stephen Brackett, who also directed the Off-Broadway show, as well as the original artistic team.

Author Jonathan Tolins’ plays, in addition to Buyer & Cellar, are The Twilight of the Golds, If Memory Serves, The Last Sunday in June, Secrets of the Trade, and The Forgotten Woman. He and his husband Robert Cary contributed additional material to the 2014 Broadway revival of On the Town. His films are The Twilight of the Golds and Martian Child, both co-written with Seth E. Bass. Television credits include Queer as Folk, The Academy Awards, The Tony Awards, Partners, Grease Live! (with Robert Cary), and BrainDead.

The original design and production team are reunited for the Westport production. They include Andrew Boyce, scenic design; Jessica Pabst, costume design; Eric Southern, lighting design; Stowe Nelson, sound design; Alex Basco Koch, projection design; Hannah Woodward, production stage manager; and Sam Pinkleton, musical staging.