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Three Wise Guys

From 18 critic and 27 member reviews
Members say: Entertaining, Quirky, Funny, Dated, Clever

About the show

Based on two Damon Runyon stories, TACT's world premiere comedy centers around three New York guys who find themselves on Christmas Eve 1932 in Good Time Charley’s speakeasy on West 46th Street. More…

As the bootleg liquor flows, the guys agree to band together and take to the road to avoid all the hubbub of the holiday. Besides, notorious racketeer Heine Schmitz is after them, and they have to get out of town. Over one long life-changing night, they make some big decisions while inadvertently spreading good cheer around and about to one and all.

Front Row Center

"It is a charming farewell...The actors handle the dialect well, with only the the occasional lapse in accent...'Three Wise Guys' is a little gem of a play. So much of Damon Runyon’s storytelling takes place in dialogue, he’s a natural for the stage...Director Scott Alan Evans keeps the action moving without sacrificing the quieter moments that give the humor its zest. It is difficult to pull off, but the cast make it look easy." Full Review

History News Network

"It is just wonderful, a delicious romp through the mob underworld, speakeasies, and the Long Island mansions of the wealthy in the Depression era...The play is a tasty cup of hot chocolate with whip cream on top for these blistering cold winter days...Evans has done a superb job...The play has everything one could want on the stage. There is the enchanting underworld story and the Runyon characters and more laughs than there are on the streets of Chicago." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"This homage to times gone by, is sweet, charming, and utterly enjoyable...Like the old screwball comedy’s of the 20’s, there are many who will not see this piece as viable, but my guest thanked me afterwards for bring her to something so enjoyable. There is a place for theatre that reminds us of the simplicity of the past...The cast are all deliciously wonderful, as they take on multiple roles. Scott Alan Evans directs this piece with whimsy and delight." Full Review

On and Off Broadway

"A new comedy that has captured the warmth and loopy humor so prevalent in the source material...A company of 7 veteran actors performs with a perfected rhythm and a consistent accent to the breezy dialogue...It’s an ensemble cast that plays together like a well rehearsed orchestra, with each actor delivering clever dialogue that tells the complicated story of three hapless gents...A play that’s highly original...A delightful and refreshing divertissement." Full Review

Epoch Times

"A nostalgic work with more than a little heart...There’s something special about Runyon characters. They often inhabit the fringes of society yet have a unique moral code...Unfolding in leisurely fashion, the tale still manages to cram a lot of action into its deliberately meandering style. Though there are moments when events more than stretch the bounds of credibility, by the time they occur, we are too invested in the story and its characters to mind." Full Review

New York Theatre Wire

"If you love Damon Runyon’s outlandish characters and their eccentric articulations, you’re in for a treat...Although the combination, as hammered out by Scott Alan Evans and Jeffrey Couchman, is at times a bit clumsy, the result is a thoroughly entertaining evening...This comedy is surprisingly tame and, for the most part, entirely appropriate for youngsters...The cast is quite wonderful. One only hopes they are having as good a time as they are giving the audience." Full Review


"Clocking in at a breezy 85 minutes, 'Three Wise Guys' doesn't come close to overstaying its welcome. But there is a sense that Evans and Couchman want to send us to the exits before we've had time to think about the plot holes they couldn't quite fill after mashing together the two Runyon stories. My advice? Just sit back and enjoy the con." Full Review


"A pleasant and funny tribute to the era of speakeasies, bootleggers, guys and dolls...Nothing about any of this is particularly new or surprising, but arguably that predictability is one of the production's greatest strengths...Playwrights Scott Alan Evans (who also directs) & Jeffrey Couchman understand their source material and its roots...A graceful, funny, and warm production." Full Review

Motherhood Later

"Filled with the slightly shady, Times Square characters, and idiosyncratic language...Although it’s a much-told story, because of the witty writing and many, clever plot devices and the solid direction of Scott Alan Evans, 'Three Wise Guys' feels entertaining and new...The only thing that seems inappropriate about this production is the time of year in which it was produced. I guess TACT feels that we need a little Christmas. Maybe, they’re right." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There are numerous comic portrayals and one liners that tickle the funny bone...Surprises all around, lots of wacky conversations as the characters keep popping in and out...And there’s an adorable bed scene – the least expected! It’s amazing how much can happen in one evening! It’s all tongue in cheek, and even mobsters have a heart, especially on Christmas Eve." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"This snicker-worthy and sweetish play doesn’t feel very vital nor is it a high level, high-octane comedy, but it is done with love and a good spirited need to entertain by all involved...It’s pleasant and mildly entertaining fun as directed by Scott Alan Evans...Overall the piece flies by on a bit shaky but silly charisma, piling on the giddy jokes one on top of each other with sentimental affection." Full Review


"A tasty slice of that quality known as Runyonesque...Not exactly the madcap caper it may well intend to be...Squeezes in more plot than laugh lines...Still, it's a likeable entertainment, thanks in large part to an ingratiating cast, and Evans' light but imaginative hand as director of the show as well as its co-writer...May not be a 'great' play, but...It should leave the company’s final audiences with smiles on their faces." Full Review


"The play is as much an elegy for a bygone era as it is for an off-Broadway company on its way out, fully exemplifying the organization's modest successes even if it doesn't always work...Evans, who directs, and Couchman take certain liberties, particularly in the play's entirely invented middle section...This is where the work really falters, mostly because it has a tendency to lose the distinctive Runyonese that the rest of the work so pleasingly encapsulate...Not perfect but still enjoyable." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"A good, well written story and would’ve made a wonderful 1950s’s film or musical. In fact, the piece would benefit from background music. Silences weigh heavily...It’s short on atmosphere and connective tissue...I really wanted to like the production more than I did...Staging and timing are skillful, but the capable cast is so utterly natural, they convey no brightness, no zip. Perhaps exaggeration of style would help. There’s potential here. I enjoyed the story/script." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"'Guys and Dolls' has co-opted the Runyon oeuvre; any attempt to dramatize the gent's writing without a terrific musical score is probably doomed to sound as airlessly ersatz as it does here…Everything about the comically convoluted script just lies there….Runyon's humorously ungrammatical New York mobster patois is intact…This affords a jot of jocularity but it's no substitute for a stage-worthy story and characters." Full Review

Off Off Online

"An uneven production...With the puppets from internationally known puppeteer Andy Gaukel, and vivid screen projections from established designer Dan Scully offering exciting visuals, Evans cannot seem to get his actors to keep pace or to fully own the inherent comedy of Runyon's stilted language. The result is a weak finish." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'Three Wise Guys' has the look and feel of a synthetic: It apes the manner of a classic screwball farce without delivering the laughs...The story is also poorly constructed, requiring the action to stop repeatedly for flashbacks -- making use of projections and shadow puppets -- to fill us in on various complicated backstories. This is nothing against the cast, all of whom, under Evans' direction, deliver neatly stylized characterizations without going over the top." Full Review

The New York Times

"This production mostly demonstrates how difficult it is to bring Runyon to life...Runyon was not so much about plot as he was about character and color...Lacks the relish Runyon brought to his larger-than-life creations...The pace lags and the actors never find that sweet spot between arch formalism and comic abandon. Hawkins needs more of the carefree swagger of a lovable rogue like Dancing Dan...Missing are tone, pace and flavor — that elusive snap, crackle and pop." Full Review

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You like GUYS AND DOLLS and want to see another theatrical take on Damon Runyon's quirky stories.

Don't see it if You want something meaty or hate period pieces. Or hate GUYS AND DOLLS!

Also I found this charming from beginning to end. But if you are unfamiliar... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Funny

See it if If you want a light, funny show. The cast was talented and the 40’s theme was charming and very amusing.

Don't see it if You are not into old fashioned shows

Funny, Entertaining, Great staging, Quirky, Clever

See it if you are interested in a show that has plucked characters from guys and dolls but even more humorously. Luck be a lady tonight! Cute and fun.

Don't see it if you prefer musicals or lavish productions.

Clever, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if Have appreciation for slapstick, unconventional humor and simple yet progressive story lines.

Don't see it if You cannot see past what's in front of you or have no imagination


See it if The Prohibition Era with good performances and clever staging by a fine, small theater company. Petty larceny at its most charming.

Don't see it if A less than relevant subject, long forgotten, which is far more engaging in the musical Guys and Dolls.

Entertaining, Funny, Dated, Quirky

See it if you like to remember the days of yore and the comedy of those times.. Not quite Guys and Doll but some nice moments.A nice farewell for TACT

Don't see it if you are unhappy with a minimal set and dialogue ala Damon Runyon speech and a story that just ????

Corny, silly, Quirky, Fun

See it if you want to see a slight comedy based on Runyon stories about 3 guys out to make it big during Xmas eve & all the nutty situations they have

Don't see it if you don't enjoy silly situation comedies that stretch your imagination with scenes that come across as slapstick.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Dated, Quirky

See it if you want to see something different which has much to commend it. Interesting story, dialogue, and plot, which all comes together in the end

Don't see it if you don't like something a bit old-fashioned, with stock characters and situations. Some folks might not be engaged by this and be bored.

Ambitious, Interesting, Serious, Cliched, Atmospheric

See it if to see the final show of the closing TACT Theater, fan of Damon Runyon stories & '30's New York atmosphere, see new adaptation of 2 stories

Don't see it if you expect a laugh out loud who, if you don't enjoy ponderous but amusing work, not a fan of TACT

Also I wish TACT had gone out with more of an impressive, memorable final s... Read more Read less

Funny, Entertaining, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy funny and engaging plays of the old days and about the times of prohibition.

Don't see it if you prefer big productions or are not interested in period pieces.

Ambitious, Funny, Disappointing

See it if You like Runyon characters. A fun play. TACT always has good sets, good production values and good acting.

Don't see it if You want depth. Some of the coincidences and twists and turns seem a bit forced.

Also Sadly this is TACT's final play.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Refreshing

See it if you like fun, complicated, and ridiculous scenarios with exquisite shadow-puppetry.

Don't see it if you are looking for deep, thought-provoking theater.

Clever, Delightful, Fluffy, Quirky, Funny

See it if You like quirky, shtick, funny show, reminiscent of 39 Steps of a bygone era. You like to root for the under dog.

Don't see it if You expect a TONY award winning show, don't like shtick, funny shows. Don't like shows like 39 Steps.

Entertaining, Ambitious, Quirky, Slow

See it if Interesting take on the Three Wise Men Xmas story. Good ensemble acting.

Don't see it if Do not see if you perfer musicals or a large cast well written in-depth story.

Disappointing, Slow, Quirky, Clever, Amusing

See it if Despite valiant efforts of talented cast, these wise guys remain pretty pedestrian Plumpis' Capone-sque kingpin amuses the most

Don't see it if Uneven adapt of Runyon stories carries most of the blame; lacks the breezy panache necessary to pull off send-up Ditto lackluster direction

Dated, Cliched, Disappointing

See it if you're a Runyon fan and enjoy his work.

Don't see it if you don't like dated, clichéd material. Sorry, this was just not my "thing".

Cliched, Slow, Dated

See it if You like Damon Runyon-esque characters and stories that come off a bit campy.

Don't see it if You don’t care for Damon Runyon charicatures and over acting in a dated plot line.

Cliched, Dated, Disappointing, Funny, Quirky

See it if You like old timely theater. A bit vaudville a bit old gangster movie spoof.

Don't see it if You want to see anything groundbreaking.

Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Exquisite, Entertaining

See it if You love comedy, great acting, delightful storytelling! Its a joy!

Don't see it if You should see it!

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Three great actors on stage at once. Not my favorite Edward Albee play but it is a good story with very good directing.

Don't see it if If you don't like Edward Albee as his writing is an acquired taste. Like it with Marion Seldes back in the day, better.

During previews
Funny, Dated, Fluffy, Quirky

See it if you want a little mindless fun about stereotypical bad boys who are bad at being bad.

Don't see it if you want something deep and meaningful.

During previews
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You would like a throwback Damon Runyon door-slammer with an engaging cast and shadow puppets with twists and turns.

Don't see it if You want serious fare

During previews
Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Dated

See it if you like Damon Runyon comedy. I thought it was funny and the staging was great. It was cast well.

Don't see it if you don't like Damon Runyon comedy. The style of the dialogue is dated.

Also I thought this play would have been better shown during the Christmas ... Read more Read less

During previews
Amusing period piece, Clunky adaptation, Runyonland types acted with zest

See it if you like Runyon's stylized gangster patois and the guys and dolls who speak it with relish; you're a fan of TACT's acting company

Don't see it if you expect Runyon's stories reinvented for the stage: the 2 stories are mashed up with seams showing and few concessions to stage convention

Also Sad to say, this production marks the TACT company's swan song: they a... Read more Read less

During previews
Entertaining, Dated, Fluffy, Quirky

See it if You are looking for an old style Damon Runyon show.

Don't see it if You are looking for something modern day play,

Cast & Creatives (16)