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‘Skintight’ review: Idina Menzel stars in sexually explicit new play

Joshua Harmon's new play at the Laura Pels Theatre is not on par with his recent comedy productions.

Eli Gelb and Idina Menzel star in

Eli Gelb and Idina Menzel star in "Skintight" at the Laura Pels Theatre. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

If you go: “Skintight” runs through Aug. 26 at the Laura Pels Theatre. 111 W. 46th St., roundabouttheatre.org.

Idina Menzel is letting it go — but not in the way you are probably thinking.

In Joshua Harmon’s sexually explicit new play “Skintight,” which is being produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company, Menzel plays an overbearing, high-strung, self-absorbed attorney and mother who is ready and willing to loudly express her mounting frustration to those around her.

Some targets of her anger include her ex-husband, who is newly engaged to a much younger woman; her 70-year-old father (Jack Wetherall), a rich and famous fashion designer who is now openly gay; and her father’s 20-year-old, blissfully ignorant, live-in boyfriend (Will Brittain), who happens to be the same age as her gawky son (Eli Gelb), who has just returned from studying queer theory abroad.

By the end, Menzel’s character may finally be ready to “let it go” — that is, let go of her anger and accept things.

The 47-year-old stage and screen actress achieved breakout success as the original Maureen in “Rent,” later won a Tony as the original Elphaba in “Wicked” and more recently voiced Elsa in the film “Frozen.” This marks her debut in a play in New York — unless you count a short stint in “The Vagina Monologues” years ago. The role fits her like a glove and she gives a fine enough performance.

The play offers food for thought about society’s shameless attraction to youth and beauty, the mutability of one’s identity and the aloofness of those accustomed to privilege.

That being said, “Skintight” is too often static, slow and messy. It is not on par with Harmon’s other recent comedies including “Bad Jews” (which has become a hit with regional theaters), “Significant Other” (which transferred to Broadway) and “Admissions” (recently produced by Lincoln Center Theater).

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