Sean Hayes as God in An Act of God; Photo by Jim Cox

‘AN ACT OF GOD’: Sean Hayes. Photo: Jim Cox

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AN ACT OF GOD
Written by David Javerbaum
Directed by Joe Mantello
Through September 4, 2016
Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street
(212-239-6200), www.AnActOfGod.com

 

By Scott Harrah

God returns to Broadway in this hit show from last summer, appearing in the 21st century to give us His new version of the Ten Commandments. He’s not in the form of a burning bush, but this time around he’s in the body of Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes, with mostly heavenly results.

Mr. Hayes, Jack McFarland of “Will and Grace” fame, reprises the role originated by “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons in 2015. Mr. Hayes, who played God earlier this year in the Los Angeles and San Francisco productions, brings his Almighty touch to New York. Anyone who saw Mr. Parsons do the role will immediately make comparisons about Mr. Hayes’ portrayal. While Mr. Parsons’ God was more droll, ingenious and deadpan, Mr. Hayes gives a fresh, snarky take on the Supreme Being. Sean Hayes as God is more sarcastic, delivers the dialogue with more of an edge and, well, does at times seem like Jack McFarland as our Heavenly Father, but that’s not a problem at all if one is a “Will and Grace” fan.

Naturally, the script has been updated slightly for 2016. There are now jokes about Hamilton and Donald Trump (no need to spoil anything with punch lines, but there are enough new tweaks to make the show worth a second look, even if you caught it last year with Jim Parsons).

We know that God is omnipotent and omnificent created the world in six days and can be merciful. We know He can be full of wrath, vengeful, jealous, unjust and downright cantankerous. We now know that on good days He also has a sense of humor.

Besides Mr. Hayes, the other true star is the clever script by David Javerbaum (13-time Emmy Award-winning former head writer and executive producer of “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart), all based “on the memoir of God.”

Whether you’ve seen Sean Hayes as Jack in “Will and Grace” or caught his Broadway debut back in 2011 opposite Kristin Chenoweth in Promises, Promises, you’ve never seen him quite like this.  Now, in this 90 minute monologue, he shows us God’s duality, the good side of Him and the one who is skeptical of mankind’s daily troubles. He is vain and does not concern Himself in sports, so we should stop praying to Him for our favorite team, Mr. Hayes shows us God in all of his moods. While Mr. Hayes primarily plays things for laughs (and gets them), he can be poignant in the right places, such as when he announces the 8th commandment, “To Honor Thy Children.” Suddenly, this smart-mouthed God shows he has a compassionate side, too.

God has two engaging assistants: The questioning angel Michael (David Josefsberg) and the servicing angel Gabriel (James Gleason). The set by Scott Pask and lighting by Hugh Vanstone is sparse but effective. As he once did for Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last (which played the Booth back in 2013), Joe Mantello has a fine gift for extracting the best from his actors who engage in monologues.

Now here’s a commandment: Thou must now get to the Booth Theatre and see Sean Hayes as God.

Edited by Scott Harrah
Published June 6, 2016
Reviewed at press performance on June 4, 2016

 

 

'AN ACT OF GOD': James Gleason, Sean Hayes & David Josefsberg. Photo: Jim Cox

‘AN ACT OF GOD’: James Gleason, Sean Hayes & David Josefsberg. Photo: Jim Cox

'AN ACT OF GOD': Sean Hayes. Photo: Jim Cox

‘AN ACT OF GOD’: Sean Hayes. Photo: Jim Cox

'AN ACT OF GOD': James Gleason, Sean Hayes & David Josefsberg. Photo: Jim Cox

‘AN ACT OF GOD’: James Gleason, Sean Hayes & David Josefsberg. Photo: Jim Cox

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