Times have changed -- but as Mad Men's appeal makes clear, the sixties carry a strong nostalgic appeal. That's what the producers of the 1965 comedy Cactus Flower must have thought when they decided to jump start its New York revival.
And they have a point. Abe Burrows, he of Guys and Dolls fame, adapted the sex farce from a French play. The Broadway production ran for nearly three years and produced a successful movie, which earned Goldie Hawn an Oscar.
Now at the Westside Theater, Cactus Flower tries to recapture some of that groovy sixties vibe, complete with a convincing set design and sound track that makes one wish they sold it in the lobby.
While it's dated at points, Cactus Flower is also fun; a comedy most audiences would label "cute." Dr. Julian Winston, a good-looking dentist (Maxwell Caulfield), is having an affair with Toni (Jenni Barber). She's known the score since day one: he's married with three kids.
Or is he? The playboy has devised this foolproof explanation to keep the ladies at bay. But when he decides to marry Toni, she insists he produce his wife. Daffy Toni (played as an homage to Hawn) wants to ensure everything's on the up and up. So Julian shifts into high gear, enlisting his devoted nurse (a wonderful Lois Robbins) in a wacky scheme to save him.
The play is a lighthearted romp that forces all the characters to come clean about their desires emotional and sexual -- even if Julian's occasional sexist cracks are groaners. Overall, it's enjoyable; this Cactus Flower isn't as prickly humorous as it could be, but it retains a pleasant bloom.
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