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Josh Hamilton Turns Male Angst Into Theatrical Magic in Reasons to Be Happy

Josh Hamilton Turns Male Angst Into Theatrical Magic in Reasons to Be Happy
Josh Hamilton in 'Reasons to be Happy'
Nobody plays conflicted men better than Josh Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton has been so good for so long in so many off-Broadway shows, it’s old news to say that he elevates any play he’s in. From the original production of Eric Bogosian’s Suburbia to his amazing give-and-take with Mark Ruffalo in Kenneth Longeran’s This Is Our Youth to his great work with the New Group (Hurlyburly, Things We Want, A Lie of the Mind), Hamilton is a rock on stage—and he’s wonderful in period roles, too (The Coast of Utopia, CSC’s Chekhov series). All this history is simply a build-up to giving him a huge Thumbs Up for his performance as Greg in Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Happy. The role (first seen in LaBute’s 2008 dark comedy Reasons to Be Pretty) is the personification of male ambivalence, a guy who doesn’t know what he wants or who he loves. Greg drives the women in Reasons crazy, but since he’s being played by Josh Hamilton, the audience ends up rooting for Greg to wriggle out of his entanglements and find happiness. As in Pretty, Greg shares individual scenes with Steph (Jenna Fischer), Carly (Leslie Bibb) and Kent (Fred Weller), and Hamilton is a fabulous scene partner with all of them. Here’s hoping this Happy production gets a long extension at MCC—and if LaBute decides to combine the two plays into a single evening, he should beg Hamilton to anchor the cast.

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