On Stage

JACKIE MASON: LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR

(Booth Theatre): In his fourth one-man Broadway show in seven years, the popular comedian tackles his trademark themes: the differences between Jews and gentiles, political correctness, the presidential race. His views in recent years have become increasingly strident and less outright funny, but he still manages to score big laughs, particularly when he skewers pomposity. Mason targets everything from the pretentiousness of opera and the absurdly high prices in places like Starbucks to the eagerness of computer users to talk incessantly on-line when they won't even talk to their neighbors.

He also skewers personalities from Charles and Di (his facial impression of Charles's friend Camilla Parker Bowles is priceless) to Jesse Jackson.

I DO! I DO!

(Lamb's Theatre): Musical theater collaborators Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt are best known for their perennially running "The Fantastics," but this 1966 work is an even more charming, and far less precious, creation. A hit in its initial Broadway incarnation (the fact that the stars were Robert Preston and Mary Martin didn't hurt), it has now been given a delightful new Off Broadway revival.

Based on the "The Fourposter," it chronicles the ups and downs of the 50-year marriage between Michael (David Garrison) and Agnes (Karen Ziemba), beginning in 1898. The stage is mostly empty of scenery, save the large fourposter bed around which the action revolves.

The idea could have been cloying, but the musical is never sickly sweet. Jones and Schmidt leaven the sentiment with dollops of sometimes wicked humor, and they convey the challenges of making a marriage last a lifetime. The musical score is tuneful, the lyrics witty, particularly in the case of the beautiful "My Cup Runneth Over." The show is skillfully staged by Will Mackenzie. Garrison and Ziemba's winning comic styles and engaging personalities go a long way toward making us appreciate their characters even at their most boorish.

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