Once upon a time, there was a neighborhood character particular to the American city. On the outside, he ran a barbershop, where men and women could have a cut or trim or even a manicure. But to those in the know, he was the local bookmaker, a petty bet taker who ran numbers and made money. The type may be gone, but Theater for the New City's reviving him in the vaudeville musical Benny's Barbershop, running March 16-April 2. An unexpected hit for the company in the 1999 season, Barbershop ran March 18-April 3 with direction by Mark Marcante and a cast that included Craig Meade, Juan Villeges and TNC founder, Crystal Field.
Most of that original cast has returned in this musical comedy about Benny, an ex-baseball player, who, on returning to his father's barbershop, becomes embroiled with the mob. While his manicurist causes a rift between the real gangsters and Benny, whose father owes a heap of money to the mob, the barber-bookmaker can only hope he'll get out alive. T. Scott Lilly and Marcante wrote the book and lyrics with music by Lilly and Joe Diamond.
Marcante takes the title role with Biancomano as the old gangster, Field as Betty, Jack Tynan and Primy Rivera as two young hoods,Villegas as the G-man, Daniel Wilkes Kelly and Alexander as the neighborhood loafers and Meade as the actor/barber.
Tickets are $10. Theater for the New City (Johnson Theater) is located at 155 First Avenue. For tickets, call (212) 254-1109.
-- By Christine Ehren