REVIEW: Daddy Dearest: Chris Lemmon’s touching tribute to Jack

Film · Reviews · Theater

chris-lemmonA charming and winsome theatrical evening with a couple of talented Hollywood men …

In “Jack Lemmon Returns,” now on through month’s end at the Broad Stage’s intimate “Edye” theater, Chris Lemmon shares his family photo album sprung to life. It’s the actor/musician’s one-man show of memories and anecdotes about his father, the hugely accomplished comic actor, Jack Lemmon, who died in 2001.

A talented teller of tales, a fine mimic and a wonderful, fluid pianist, Chris Lemmon echoed his dad’s two ‘extra-curricular’ life passions: playing golf and the piano. He’s also a dead ringer for the old man and aptly mimics his characteristic verbal traits: the Boston accent, the neurotic stutter, the irritable, frustrated tone that morphs into humor.

jack-chris-lemmon_optEnjoyable, of course, the backstage skinny about Lemmon films, “Mr. Roberts,” “It Should Happen to You, “The Apartment,” “Some LIke it Hot,” “Days of Wine & Roses,” “The Odd Couple, “Save the Tiger,” and “Missing.” What a list.

Surprising to learn of Lemmon’s deep and continuing admiration, as a young actor, for French actor/mime Jean-Louis Barrault.

Another powerful revelation, if only in its simplicity, is the son’s stark admission that his father’s love for his job probably outweighed that for his family.

The 90-minute monologue, interspersed with music and song, could use judicious pruning. Lemmon_sorokoffA few gossipy interludes feel forced, for example, the description of a tryst between MM and JFK, although you’d think that would be compelling. At times it feels like a dutiful IMDB resume tour.

But Chris Lemmon’s heartfelt depiction of a son’s trials and tribulations is tender overall and strongly delivered. The evening offers an impressive and thought-provoking foray through a family saga whose broken chapters (they exist) are beautifully mended by the magical act of sharing with an audience.

Jack Lemmon Returns | The Broad Stage | thru Feb 1

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