'Breakfast at Tiffany's' review: No shine

Emilia Clarke in a scene from "Breakfast at Emilia Clarke in a scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," performing at the Cort Theatre. Photo Credit: AP

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REVIEW

Girls were supposed to dream about becoming fairy-tale princesses. But everyone I ever knew, or at least anyone I liked, wanted to be Holly Golightly.

Oh, we heard the whispers, that the 1961 movie -- for us, the young-woman's-guide-to-sophistication -- was a sanitized version of Truman Capote's 1958 novella. We didn't think we needed to know that Holly -- the elegant Manhattan free spirit blessed with Audrey Hepburn's neck -- earned her exquisitely bohemian chic as a high-priced call girl. It mattered not to us that the struggling young writer she called Fred was at least bisexual and just maybe gay.

Eventually, of course, even youthful iconography can benefit from a splash of literary integrity. Alas, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- the third attempt to stage Capote's story and the first to actually open on Broadway -- is, dahling, as Holly might say, a bore.

British director Sean Mathias, who staged an earlier version by a different playwright in London four years ago, clearly believes he can do what even Edward Albee, Mary Tyler Moore and David Merrick couldn't do in a 1966 production that infamously closed after four previews.

This newest adaptation, which stars Emilia Clarke, is by the formidable and amusing playwright Richard Greenberg. No one can complain that he has not been faithful to the original. In fact, this is practically a line-by-line transcription of Capote's wartime story. It translates awkwardly to the stage as endless exposition, standard-issue New York projected skylines on screens and mushy mumbles by a largely charmless populace of should-be fascinating people.

As Holly, Clarke dares to be the not-Hepburn. This is essential. But Clarke, much admired as the Mother of Dragons in HBO's "Game of Thrones," lacks the presence that makes it impossible to notice anyone else in the room. Besides being small with a nice-girl beauty, she lacks a dominating fascination, the requisite phony-but-not-phony charisma that makes us all fall helplessly in love. Her gorgeous gowns, by Colleen Atwood, seem more made for the role than she does.

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Cory Michael Smith, as narrator and adoring neighbor Fred, competently explains the overloaded backstory and makes us root for him -- if not for his gratuitous nude scene.

George Wendt is wasted as the bartender. So is Vito, the ginger feline who appears infrequently as the cat Holly calls Cat.

WHAT "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

WHERE Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.

INFO $37-$132; 212-239-6200, breakfastattiffanysonbroadway.com

@Newsday

BOTTOM LINE Dull, dahling

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