Review: Billy Crystal's '700 Sundays' Exclusive Run in Mpls. Brings Laughter, Tears

Updated: 02/18/2014 9:48 AM By: Sarina Long

Billy Crystal stands in front of a replica of his house in Long Beach, NY
Billy Crystal stands in front of a replica of his house in Long Beach, NY
Photo: Hennepin Theatre Trust

Most people know Billy Crystal from classics like "When Harry Met Sally" or "City Slickers" but last night the actor/comedian performed “700 Sundays,” his Tony Award-winning one-man show about growing up on Long Island, family, fate, love, and loss.

The State Theatre was filled with laughter, tears, and compassion during this two-act play which Minneapolis was lucky enough to preview before the show makes it final run on Broadway.

Crystal will be heading back to Broadway next month for a nine-week run at the Imperial Theater, with opening night scheduled for November 13. The limited run ends on January 5, 2014. 

Crystal introduces the audience to his eclectic, Jewish family members -- many who have influenced the man he is today and says, "“We all have the same five relatives, they just jump from album to album.”

The stage is set up as a replica of Billy's old house -- one with paper-thin walls, where secrets don't stay secret and grandpa's gas wakes up a sleeping household often. 

While the set never changes, the audience is transported via lighting to a jazz club where Billy's dad is the emcee, to a high school gym, even heaven where Billy talks to God for a couple minutes. 

Throughout the first act, Billy explains the significance of the 700 Sundays he spent with his father. There are three windows which are used as video screens where home videos shot by Billy's dad introduce you to a tap-dancing 5-year-old boy who lived a very unique life. You also see newspaper clippings back from the grand opening of his family's record store in Manhattan, and pictures with jazz legends such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Crystal talks as if this is totally normal.

"I saw my first movie while sitting on Billie Holiday's lap," Crystal said.

The laughs and childhood stories continue in act two, but this time the focus turns to Billy's father, who dies suddenly from a heart attack. Billy is given the daunting task as man of the house at just 15-years-old.

Anyone who has ever experienced loss connects immediately with Crystal.

So why Minneapolis? "This is the 50th anniversary of the passing of my dad. You and this place understand what family is all about," Crystal said. "Tonight, on your way home, call somebody you like and tell them you love them."

Note: be sure to get to the State Theatre early. Latecomers in Row K and forward will not be seated until intermission.

700 Sundays runs through this Saturday, October 26. For ticket info, click here.