Francisco Pryor Garat, left, Matt McGrath and Ashlie Atkinson in...

Francisco Pryor Garat, left, Matt McGrath and Ashlie Atkinson in "Steve," directed by Cynthia Nixon. Credit: Monique Carboni

WHAT “Steve”

WHERE Pershing Square Signature Theatre Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $25-$95; 212-279-4200;

BOTTOM LINE Delightful, poignant play about show-biz freaks

“Steve” may be the ultimate theater-geek’s tragicomedy. It is written by gifted New York newcomer Mark Gerrard, with an outstanding cast directed with enormous joy, verbal virtuosity and emotional understanding by Cynthia Nixon for The New Group.

The title relates to a longtime Manhattan couple named Steven (the especially terrific Matt McGrath) and Stephen (Malcolm Gets). There is also an offstage Steve, a gym trainer, who further confuses relationships with another longtime couple, Matt (Mario Cantone) and Brian (Jerry Dixon). Steven and Matt used to be singing waiters with lesbian pal Carrie (Ashlie Atkinson), whose cancer has pushed everyday midlife crises into genuine catastrophe.

And everyone knows musical theater (Sondheim, but not just Sondheim) so well that the fast-talking dialogue, even the dead serious conversation, is filled beyond capacity with lyrics and lines from shows. Before the play starts, the buddies all gather around a piano and goof around with show tunes. Buoyant and sad, stylized and real, this is a find.

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