Monday, August 29, 2011

Broadway voices I want to marry

I guess I'm procrastinating some of my real reviews and indulging my fangirl obsessions here. It's the Monday after a hurricane, so cut me some slack.

Broadway voices I would hetero marry if I could, just so I could have them sing to me every day:***
* Skylar Astin
* Declan Bennett (
* Gerard Canonico
* Gavin Creel (
* Raúl Esparza (
* Michael Esper (
* Joshua Henry
* Christopher Jackson (
* Brian d'Arcy James (
* Morgan Karr (
* Justin Levine (
* Bryce Ryness (
* James Snyder (
* Aaron Tveit

Broadway voices I would gay marry if I could:
* Uzo Aduba
* Kate Baldwin (
* Laura Benanti (
* Heidi Blinkenstaff
* Andréa Burns (
* Rose Hemingway
* Arielle Jacobs (
* Rebecca Naomi Jones
* Kelli O'Hara (
* Christina Sajous
* Josefina Scaglione
* Elizabeth Stanley
* Alysha Umphress (
* (Holly Brook - not on Broadway yet, but she sang in the Whisper House musical at Powerhouse and at the Old Globe in San Diego, and I hope the show--with her in it--comes to NYC) (

Broadway married voices that I would travel back in time to double marry in Utah:
* Tony Vincent ( and Aspen Miller Vincent (

I know the list is heavy with people from Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and In the Heights. I think that's a large part of why I kept going back to those shows over and over, rather than the list being biased by my love for the shows, but a fangirl can't really be objective about such matters.

What do you think? Do you think some of my choices are crazy? Am I crazy for leaving off some of your favorites?

*** I don't want to marry the people. Some of them I probably wouldn't even enjoy talking to. But I am head-over-heels for their voices.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Scott Brown (the critic, not the Masshole)

Ok. This is the funniest thing I've read in a really long time. It's unfortunate that theater critic Scott Brown shares a name with my hated U.S. Senator, but the guy can't help that. He can, however, put new playwright Zach Braff's whiny friend (aka Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence) in his place quite hilariously.

Scott Brown's Response:

Dear Bill,

I do, in fact, wear a monocle. Not by choice.

At 6, I contracted a rare eye disease that left me half-blind and hideous. The monocle helps correct my eyesight — but, unfortunately, not my revolting deformity. Also, I'm told I give off a Lovecraftian fetor that makes women swoon, and not in the I-am-now-having-an-orgasm way.

Ack! "Lovecraftian fetor"! See, there I go again. Sometimes I try to compensate for my "mutilation" (my mother's little term of art for my disability) by using big words and too many hyphens. It's a defense mechanism. I can't say it's improved my love life much — you certainly nailed that one. Twice a year, I pay a blindfolded prostitute wearing a respirator to service me. (And she's not as funny as Anna Camp. In fact ... I've never seen her smile! That might just be the respirator, though.)

The rest of the year, I pour my frustrations into my reviews and my secret desk-drawer mystery novel, The Killing Pun: A Harlan Grantham* Theater Mystery! Which I would be honored if you'd read. (Sorry to impose! I know you must get this all the time, but it's not often I rub elbows with powerful television producers!)

This is all pretty personal stuff, and difficult to talk about. But I'm glad you brought it up. I believe that intelligent, open dialogue heals all wounds — perhaps even my rancid ocular cavity. I'm so glad this didn't degenerate into snark.



P.S.: I'm sorry I didn't like your friend's play.

To fully enjoy its brilliance, you have to read backward to Lawrence's complaint letter and the original review that prompted the whining. (I also don't think Braff's play is great, though Brown and I disagree on where it goes wrong, and I don't spend nearly as much space ragging on Garden State.)

As I mentioned before (in reference to Vassar/NY Stage & Film's request for Internet silence regarding their productions including The Nightingale and Nero), the New York Times has invited guest columnists to contribute to its Theater Talkback series this summer on a variety of theater-related issues (including what good can come from bad reviews, whether audiences should boo, and if preshow announcements should be nixed). I'm really enjoying the discussions so far.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

All New People,com_plays/task,viewPlay/id,147

(Justin Bartha and David Wilson Barnes. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

All New People is a new play by Scrubs star Zach Braff, who also wrote and directed the indie-darling movie Garden State. I'm not sure if he picked the songs, but both the movie and the play do have killer music, which might be the best that can be said of them. This odd black comedy starts out with the fantastic Justin Bartha standing on a chair, with his head in an electrical-cord noose, smoking a cigarette--and finding it difficult to reach the ashtray.

That scene is excellent, but it's probably the best in the play, and it has only one character and no dialogue. Can you see where I'm going with this? Well, anyway, he's then interrupted by Krysten Ritter as a flighty British (*cough*) expat who is there to show the off-season beach house to a potential renter. Hijinx are then heavily contrived to ensue. I will be extremely vague about the plot here because it's clear that the play relies heavily on the surprises it can keep.

Let me start at the end, when Anna Camp, as an escort and aspiring music star, breaks out a ukelele and sounds very lovely singing along. (Braff really does use music well.) Camp was great as the cult leader's wife on True Blood a while back, but the writing for her part here--and therefore her performance of it--aims for Brittany on Glee and never quite gets there. Ritter's slightly less dense character is a bit better written but still not believable, and her accent is embarrassingly, distractingly bad. (It was a bit better in the filmed flashback, but the difference between the two was another distraction.) And I did not in any way believe her character's backstory. In fact, I find the play's flippancy toward the topic is fairly offensive.

The guys in this show, however, are excellent and really elevate the mediocre material. Although the plot just doesn't hold, every interaction between Justin Bartha and David Wilson Barnes is absolutely riveting, and they ground the goofy characters so well that it's like they're in an entirely different (good) play than when the women are involved. It's likely that the male characters are just better written. But, also, their wordless moments are the best of the play, and to me that's the mark of excellent acting.

Right, so ... the play. It's ... hmm ... funny at times. But the sight gags are predictable. On the other hand many of the jokes come out of nowhere and seem shoehorned in. Plus the airhead-escort bit gets old really, really quickly, especially when the other female character is also a ditz. And it's unconvincing that all of the characters end up in the same place together to begin with, much less remain there together given the circumstances. When the central premise bringing the characters together is shaky, it's hard to be invested in the action.

The fire chief/drug dealer, played by Barnes, is clearly there to be entertained, so I actually believed his character would hang around. He is playing probably the most chaotic, unpredictable character, and (stupid backstory aside) that makes his staying there the most believable in many ways. (I refuse to believe if an escort is told she can keep the money and NOT work that she'd stay, even if the client were Justin Bartha.) And Barnes's performance is certainly the highlight of the show--even better when he and the wonderfully beleaguered Bartha interact. I hope to see them both in a million other productions.

The ending is bland. I don't know. It just all feels a bit pointless and much of the dialogue seems trite. I love black comedy, with the darkness and humor being good counterpoints, but that's a precarious balance. And I love silly slapstick, but then it needs to give up on any pretense of depth. Plus, I hate when shows include their title in the dialogue. ("So you're all astronauts on some sort of ... star trek?")

This review ended up being much more negative than I expected when I started writing it. I suppose Peter DuBois must have directed the hell out of this script to make it so enjoyable at the time, as it all seems to fall apart on further reflection. I had a good enough time while I was watching it--thanks mostly to the absolutely perfect Bartha and Barnes and, to be fair, some truly hilarious lines. But it's only two weeks later and already the show is mostly gone from my memory, and what I can remember makes me angry.

I ran into someone there who had seen All New People multiple times. I seriously have no idea why.

But have I mentioned how wonderful Bartha and Barnes are? ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Talls,com_plays/task,viewPlay/id,151

(Gerard Canonico and Shannon Esper. Photo by Joan Marcus.)

I laughed so hard when I saw The Talls in its first weekend at Second Stage Uptown that I had to go back after it opened--and I dragged Lisa with me. She didn't love it as much as I did, and I didn't laugh nearly as much the second time around. That's not to say that the play got worse, though.

In some ways, the show was much better. The first time, I found the play hilarious but a bit lacking in feeling (even though it deals with a tragedy), and now it seems to have found a better emotional balance. I found Christa Scott-Reed's ice queen with a heart of woe much more affecting this time around. And though quite too old for the part, Michael Oberholtzer has really settled into his role as the obnoxious but secretly sweet brother. Sadly, Lauren Holmes has not improved. In addition to looking too old, she doesn't make a convincing teenager with her acting either. And her main method of emoting seems to be to whine, pout, and squint her eyes. Peter Rini is really quite excellent in a nothing role; the playwright seems to have forgotten about his character, much as the grieving wife has.

As the central character, I wanted a bit more from Shannon Esper. She certainly looks believable as a high school senior. And she was great with the humor. But--and this may very well be mostly a problem with the script--I didn't find her arc quite believable. Her annoyance and rebellious streak certainly rang true, but something felt missing in her tender moments with her mother. Again, that might just be some clunky writing she couldn't quite overcome.

Timothee Chalamet continues to steal the show, bringing endless adorkable charm to what is a strangely written character. (I've never been a preteen boy, but I find it hard to believe that one would ever WANT to see his sister kiss someone, much less go farther.) This time I couldn't tell if he was creepily focused on his sister, the guest, or just the idea of sex. Gerard Canonico's performance as a young, ambitious (and, ok, short) campaign manager is wonderful. I found his transition from uptight chaperone to seduced to seducer much more believable than in previews. While I am completely in love with his singing voice, his performance here and as Moritz in Spring Awakening have been achingly real. While I'd love for him to sing to me every day forever, I definitely look forward to seeing him do more straight plays too.

This play, by Anna Kerrigan, is pretty good off-Broadway fare. I suspect that she owes much to Carolyn Cantor's direction to cover up some script flaws. A little fluffy, perhaps, but the show delivers on the laughs and has some depth. I'd check out her other work. The costume design and set are fantastic. I really have loved all the Second Stage Uptown shows I've seen, though their mainstage shows have been improving too.

Sorry for the inelegant review lacking in humor. The Talls closes this Saturday (Aug. 27), and I want to finish this before then. Go see this play. It's worth seeing for Canonico and Chalamet's performances alone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These divas leave me cold (Follies, Anything Goes)

Lisa and I saw Follies and Anything Goes weekend before last, so we experienced several big-name or up-and-coming divas: Bernadette Peters (who was on my bucket list), Elaine Paige, Jan Maxwell, Sutton Foster, Laura Osnes. Overall, the experience made me sad.

Anything Goes is a great time: everyone looks like they're having a blast; there's an insane tap number that is just jaw-dropping; and Sutton Foster is clearly in love with the show. Still, although I had fun, I didn't love it. Part of the problem is that Foster seems completely wrong for the part. I mean, based on off-stage videos (like in the hilarious Side by Side with Susan Blackwell), she is probably excellent to have a few beers with. I'm sure she knows hilarious jokes, probably rude ones. And the girl can sing and dance. She works hard and has fun and I just don't buy her as the risqué, sex-on-legs Reno Sweeney. Her number at the top of Act II in the nightclub fell flat because of it. (The Tony voters clearly disagreed.)

AG was the second time I'd seen Foster on stage. Previously, she failed to convince me as a dominatrix in the Second Stage play Trust. I firmly believed she'd yell at and beat the hell out of her clients if they so wished. I did not believe that she'd be at all erotic while doing so. She's a pretty girl, but something about her just comes off as too goofy to be sexy. Alas.

Back to AG, Laura Osnes has a beautiful singing voice, and when she dances it's like she's floating above the floor. Seriously, I have no idea how she moves so smoothly or sings so effortlessly. Stunning. She should not, however, be allowed to open her mouth except to sing in this show. Her acting is so acty and her line deliveries remind me of high school plays. *sigh* And I was rooting for her. I actually voted for her in that terrible Grease casting show on NBC back in 2007. (In fact, I owe my current Broadway obsession to that--as I've said, awful--show.) I saw her in the terrible production of Grease on Broadway that followed. I was so happy, and impressed, when she took over for Kelli O'Hara in South Pacific (though I didn't see the show until closing, when O'Hara was back). And I'm glad for her that she's getting the chance to originate a role on Broadway, though I think the Bonnie & Clyde musical will be truly dreadful. What I'm saying is that I was rooting for her. But every time she talks--so earnest and so forced--it kills my theater-loving soul a little bit. I thought it was just a problem with that completely charmless (and toothless) Grease revival but her acting was really bad in both it and AG. (Perhaps with the better direction and better material of South Pacific she was fine. She certainly got good reviews for it.)

So, after filling up on post-show Belgian fries at BXL across the street from AG, we saw Follies. (It was still in previews, but it did have a recent out-of-town tryout in D.C.) This is a Sondheim musical, and one that I loved at Boston's Lyric Stage a few seasons ago. So it was the fall production I had been most excited for. I expected to still love the show itself, and I've wanted to see Bernadette Peters on stage since I first saw the video of Sunday in the Park with George oh so long ago. Oh, well. I could not be more disappointed. I don't care a whit about her Sally Durant. Her little-girl voice grates. And her singing voice isn't that impressive. Mostly, I can't see why anyone would have an affair with or marry (and, indeed stayed married to) that simpleton who is completely lacking in charisma or passion, other than her obsession with Ben. *snore* And I don't remember feeling that way, that complete lack of compassion for Sally, with the Lyric's production (possibly because Leigh Barrett is absolutely perfect, always).

Jan Maxwell, on the other hand ... HOLY! Why would anyone cheat on her Phyllis? Brilliant, witty, not preserved-within-an-inch-of-her-life. And HER VOICE! And her dancing! And her acting! And, just, everything about her performance was stunning. Despite the accent, I liked Grams Mary Beth Peil, too, but Solange is such a minor part. Other than Elaine Paige's fantastic I'm Still Here and Jayne Houdyshell being generally amazing at all times, I really didn't care what happened in the show except when Maxwell was on. And wow, is she ON. Overall, I'm sad that I didn't like the show more in general. I remember feeling in love with the musical itself the first time around. Now I think I probably never need to see it again. That can't be entirely Peters's fault, of course.

Anyway, I must be a terrible Sondheim fan and a diva-hater because I am out of love with Follies and did not enjoy Gypsy. And Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, and Sutton Foster all leave me cold (well, ok, LuPone was perfect in Company). If Peters takes a Tony Award over Maxwell, I will throw things at my TV.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Matt and Ben at Central Square Theater

[I'm not able to see Matt & Ben before it closes this weekend, so I'm very glad to have this guest review from Lisa, my frequent partner in crime. Very frequent this month, actually: We're going to NYC together the next three weekends.]

A script falls from the sky. Hilarity ensues!

Cambridge native Mindy Kaling (best known for her role on The Office) and coauthor Brenda Withers have created a fantastically funny play showing a might-have-been version of the pre-fame friendship of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, complete with phone calls to Casey and flashbacks to high school.

There are surprise special guests, an awesome fight scene, and more in this alternate universe. The two aspiring stars are spending the day in Ben’s Somerville apartment trying to work on a script when their lives are suddenly changed forever. The friends are actually working on “adapting” another script when Good Will Hunting literally falls into their lives. This leaves them to struggle with questions about everything from their friendship to their careers to what to do with Good Will Hunting when it suddenly appears and then won't leave.

Marianna Bassham and Philana Mia are brilliant as the not-too-bright but naturally charismatic Ben and the overly studious and much more driven Matt. Aside from a few points where the script lags a bit, this show is great fun.

Matt & Ben plays through Sunday, Aug. 14 at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Mass.

Also, David Schwimmer looks like a mushroom! (It’s worth going to the show just so you’ll know what that means.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bucket list, part II

Earlier I gave you the list of performers I want to see at least once in my lifetime. Here is my list of shows I want to see, sooner rather than later. (I'm sure I'm overlooking many important works, of course, so this list is a work in progress. Feel free to make suggestions!)

Shows and playwrights I've never seen but really need to:
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (love Carson McCullers--no idea if this is any good as a play, but I want to see it)
Damn Yankees
The Rocky Horror Show
Thoroughly Modern Millie

Bertolt Brecht
Anton Chekhov done well [I have high hopes for the Lyric Theatre production in Belfast]
Eugene O'Neill (It doesn't count that I've spent a lot of time at his theater.)
August Wilson

NOT on my list:
Les Misérables
The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber's entire oeuvre (but I AM going to see Ricky Martin in Evita--SHUT UP. I have a soft spot for Menudo and for that show.)

Shows I've already seen (NYC or regional) but want to see again:
Altar Boyz
American Idiot (but probably only with the original choreography--YAY FOR THE TOUR!)
Black Watch (heartbreaking, but I could watch it over and over)
Billy Elliot (though preferably in London with decent accents)
A Chorus Line (my first Broadway show, and still one of my all-time favorites)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (with John Cameron Mitchell, if possible)
Inherit the Wind
Man of La Mancha
The Music Man
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Sweeney Todd
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

NOT on my list:
Act II of Sunday in the Park with George

(Click below for a list of people whose work I love and want to see more from.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Go see The Talls,com_plays/task,viewPlay/id,151

I went to New York last weekend and only saw one play (Anna Kerrigan's The Talls at Second Stage Uptown) and one concert (Declan Bennett at Rockwood Stage 1). All that extra time should have given me plenty of time to write my review for The Talls, but as the show was still in its first week and I don't want to nitpick while it's in previews, I'm going to wait to review it after I see it again in a couple of weeks.

Since it's a short run and I'm tired of only recommending shows after they close, I just wanted to pop in to say how much fun I had at this play. As the youngest sibling of the very tall Clarke family, Timothee Chalamet steals the show, with both the best dialogue and the most hilarious delivery. Gerard Canonico (still the shortest actor in the cast even though Chalamet is just a high school junior) and (the much taller) Shannon Esper are delightfully awkward together, both physically and emotionally.

I laughed embarrassingly loudly during this show and spent much of the 80 minutes with a hand clamped over my mouth. Sure, it's broad comedy, but it has heart--and great 1970s-era costumes. If a bit of fluff and a belly laugh is what you're looking for, head up to 76th Street and see The Talls this month.

(This ended up being an accidentally Idiotic weekend. Canonico did his two shows at Second Stage then headed downtown to Rockwood to play drums for Bennett's CD-release show for the excellent Record:Breakup. The band also included his American Idiot pals Chase Peacock on bass and Jared Stein on piano. Sometimes my theater world feels very small. And that's just fine with me.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick hits 1

My longer list of shows I've seen this year obviously includes shows that have closed. And there are a ton of productions I saw this year that I haven't gotten around to reviewing yet (plus shows I saw in past years that are still running). I do hope to double back to them.

In the meantime, here are my brief impressions of shows I've seen that are still running, in case you're looking for recommendations of shows to see (or to avoid). I'm just going from the lists of Broadway and off-Broadway shows at If no dates are given, the show's run is open-ended.

Avenue Q - off-Broadway (not for the easily offended, but smart and hilarious)
Billy Elliot - Broadway (not for those who care about accurate British accents, but heartwarming with great music and dancing)

Anything Goes - Broadway
Sons of the Prophet - off-Broadway - currently scheduled for Sept. 20 through Dec. 23

Blue Man Group - off-Broadway (weird and fun)
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying - Broadway
Jerusalem - Broadway - closes Aug. 21 (heavy, but Mark Rylance's Tony-winning performance is definitely worth seeing)
Silence! The Musical - off-Broadway - currently extended through Sept. 24 (not for the easily offended, or for people who don't remember the movie well, but so much fun)
The Talls - off-Broadway - closes Aug. 27 (I laughed so hard and so often that I was embarrassed and had to clamp my hands over my mouth at times)

All New People - off-Broadway - closes Aug. 14
Follies - Broadway - closes Dec. 30
Rock of Ages - Broadway (fun if you like that kind of music, and really much better than I expected)
Wicked - Broadway (quite a spectacle; I saw this on tour in Boston not on Broadway, so take from that what you will; a good time, but with all the hype I was a bit disappointed)

Catch Me if You Can - Broadway
Hair - Broadway (tour) - closes Sept. 10 (not my favorite songs, and I wish it had more of a story and developed characters, but the wall of sound created by so many voices is quite impressive, so if you like the music, this might be for you)
Priscilla, Queen on the Desert - Broadway
War Horse - Broadway/London's National Theatre

Bluebird - off-Broadway - currently scheduled for Aug. 9 through Sept. 9
The Book of Mormon
Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling - off-Broadway - currently scheduled for Sep. 9 through Oct. 23
The Lyons - off-Broadway - currently "scheduled" for September through November
Master Class - Broadway - closes Sept. 4
Once - off-Broadway - currently scheduled for Nov. 15 through Jan. 1
Porgy and Bess - Boston pre-Broadway tryout Aug. 17 through Oct. 2 - currently scheduled to start on Broadway Dec. 17
The Submission - off-Broadway - currently scheduled for Sept. 8 through Oct. 22

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Casting announced for NYC transfer of Sons of the Prophet

I hope everyone will go see the New York production of Stephen Karam's Sons of the Prophet. I fell in love with the play during its Boston tryout (saw it twice), and I am very excited to see it again at the Roundabout this fall. In fact, I like it enough that I will be dragging everyone I know to see it. (My review of the Huntington production is here.)

I am, however, a little disappointed about the roles that were recast--and a bit about the roles that were not, too. (I'm looking at you, Joanna Gleason--please tone down your character a bit!) But I'm sure this production will still be great because the play is so well written. I loved Kurz in the role (indeed, I was completely charmed by his performance, and my only complaint was that he's not built like the runner the character is supposed to be). So I am quite sad I won't get to see him in this again. But I understand that Fontana has name recognition in the NY theater community, and I'm sure he'll be very good. [ETA: Went back and did my homework. They are actually just un-recasting the role, as Fontana was supposed to play the role at the Huntington but had to drop out for the extension of The Importance of Being Earnest.] I am, however, so very glad that Lizbeth Mackay is transferring. She doesn't appear until the end, but I think hers was the best performance in the play. Her scene is truly beautiful, and she is beautiful in it. I promise, I am allowing for the possibility that the new cast will wow me.

In addition to just being excited to see this play I love again, I am stoked to have the opportunity to see what, if anything, is changed in the play itself. And the new set. If you liked Karam's Speech & Debate, please check out Sons of the Prophet. If S&D was too silly for you, check out Prophet anyway because it's just as funny but also more serious.

Previews begin September 30 at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/Laura Pels Theatre. The show officially opens October 20 and will run through December 23, though I hope it will be extended. If you're 18-35, be sure to sign up for Roundabout's HipTix program for $20 seats to any of their productions.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unnatural Acts

I am grateful to my adopted home, Massachusetts, for stepping up and becoming the first to stop denying equal marriage rights. Does that perhaps help redeem this Puritan state for what happened at Harvard University almost a century earlier? In what controversial Harvard President Larry Summers later called "abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university," the school convened the Secret Court of 1920 to rout out a group of young men who were engaging in what it deemed to be unhealthy behavior--mainly "unnatural" (homosexual) acts, but also drinking (this was at the beginning of Prohibition). The investigation and expulsions ruined many lives, including those of men not officially a part of the university.

Director Tony Speciale, who is also Classic Stage's associate artistic director, cowrote Unnatural Acts with several of the show's actors. They extrapolated from real Secret Court testimony to give voice to those who were expelled from Harvard and even kicked out of Cambridge entirely. The roll call at the end of the play telling what became of each man is certainly trite, but it's heartbreaking nonetheless.

While they act the hell out the material, the very talented cast is sometimes distractingly old for their roles. And for this play, looking the part very much matters. The audience's horror at the administration bullying a vulnerable teenage student is lessened when the actor looks (in some cases quite a bit) over 25. Having a younger-looking cast would go a long way in connecting with LGBTQ youth seeing the show, and it would better display the power dynamic between the panel of elders sitting in judgment over each young man brought in all alone to defend himself. That said, everyone on stage (especially Nick Westrate as the wild Ernest Roberts and Jerry Marsini as the buttoned-down Donald Clark) is very talented, immersed in his character, and completely engaging.

Ultimately, the show is better acted, designed, and directed than it is written, which is a bit strange as the director is also its coauthor. The play suffers a bit from its modern sensibility and an occasionally jarring mix of period and contemporary speech (and attitudes). And yet, none of that got in the way of my enjoyment of the play, which is manipulative and never subtle in its approach to the material. But the play is irrepressibly charming, and I just couldn't make myself mind its foibles too much. The characters (and, I suppose, the actors and even the play itself) are so earnest that it's impossible not to love them and want them to succeed, so I ultimately forgive any shortcomings. With some tweaks (ok, even without them), this play could resurrect itself elsewhere off-Broadway (with the same set as designed by Walt Spangler and costuming by Andrea Lauer, I hope). In any case, Unnatural Acts should have a long and healthy life in regional productions, and I'd very gladly see another production--preferably with the choreographed movement at the end less obviously cribbed from Spring Awakening.

(Although there is a bit of lovely singing and--previously mentioned unoriginal moment aside--interesting choreographed movement, Unnatural Acts is not a musical. However, there has been a musical, Veritas, written about the Secret Court. I'm a bit sad I didn't get to see Theo Stockman in drag in Veritas--and in a part where, I assume, he might not have had the CRAZY EYES.)

For the real story on which Unnatural Acts is based, check out the original articles from Harvard's student newspaper, The Crimson. With the recent spate of suicides among LGBTQ youth, this historical tale is as relevant as ever. And since the show is clearly advocating a point of view, it would be nice if they would either scale that back or instead fully commit by making available literature (and perhaps even collecting donations) for community resources like the It Gets Better campaign and Trevor Project hotline (866-488-7386).