Even the seen-it-all matinee ladies were nonplused by "If It Was Easy ...," a new play written -- or should it be perpetrated? -- by producer Stewart F. Lane and ex-New York Post theater columnist Ward Morehouse III, who presumably should both know better but apparently don't. "Between the restaurant and this play, this has been quite a bummer," gasped a mohair-clad matron at intermission to her shellshocked companion. Who needs a bad meal? The play alone was enough to leave this viewer indisposed.

Even the seen-it-all matinee ladies were nonplused by “If It Was Easy …,” a new play written — or should it be perpetrated? — by producer Stewart F. Lane and ex-New York Post theater columnist Ward Morehouse III, who presumably should both know better but apparently don’t. “Between the restaurant and this play, this has been quite a bummer,” gasped a mohair-clad matron at intermission to her shellshocked companion. Who needs a bad meal? The play alone was enough to leave this viewer indisposed.

The feeble goings-on involve a down-on-his-luck producer and a journalist who hatch a plan for a Broadway musical based on the life of Frank Sinatra. Given the authors, you might at least expect verisimilitude; you’d be disappointed. The show’s level of credibility is nil. For example, as soon as ace legit columnist Randi Lester breaks the news about the show in her tabloid column, checks begin flowing in from excited investors the world over.

Also arriving is goombah Joey Fingers, a mob functionary who puts up most of the multimillions needed and gets to like exercising creative control, much to the dismay of the producer, Steve Gallop. Another ludicrous moment: Joey nabs Barbra Streisand and Barbara Walters for the musical with two calls on his cell phone, an accessory that looks peculiarly exotic amid the fusty shenanigans onstage. (Why those two, of all people? Never mind.)

Inane and ineptly written (best joke: the Mesozoic one about getting to Carnegie Hall), the play is also badly acted and directed (by Lane himself) — a trifecta of ignominy. The co-writer/director had better hope that the dialogue rings true in at least one instance, when Steve insists that he’s not worried about his reputation because producers have got none to lose.

The $60 top being charged for weekend perfs is an outrage, by the way. By that inflated measure, I left after about $45 worth.

If It Was Easy ...

Douglas Fairbanks Theater;199 seats; $60 top

Production

A Stellar Prods. and James M. Nederlander presentation of a play in two acts by Stewart F. Lane and Ward Morehouse III. Directed by Lane.

Creative

Sets, Michael Anania; costumes, Steven Epstein; lighting, Phil Monat; sound, Peter Fitzgerald; productions stage manager, Alan Fox. Opened March 7, 2001. Reviewed March 14. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast

Randi Lester - Bonnie Comley Steve Gallop - John Jellison Lucy Handover - Vicki Van Tassel Joey Fingers - William Marshall Miller Charlie - Brad Bellamy Wilbur/Waiter - Gustave Johnson Lars/Mailman - Christian Kauffmann Papa - Martin LaPlatney
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