Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hello 2013 (Picnic and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)

I have seen two shows already this year, and I liked them both. Last weekend, I saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Picnic in previews with Arthur and Lisa. We all liked both shows. I had been worried about Picnic because the Huntington's production of William Inge's Bus Stop seemed so dated and unnecessary. But Picnic has so much to say about gender roles and socioeconomic problems that reviving this Inge play actually makes sense (though I found the plot in the second act less compelling).

The pacing in Cat needs to be tightened, and I think Scarlett Johansson actually underplays her sex appeal, sexual frustration, and marital desperation. Plus her accent doesn't sound at all like she is from North Carolina or Memphis. I am SO sick of amorphous, overdone Southern accents. Benjamin Walker and Debra Monk are good as Brick and Big Mama, and Ciarán Hinds is PERFECT as Big Daddy. I loved him in The Seafarer, too, and I'm thrilled that he's continuing to act in New York. I'd keep Hinds here always, if I could. I have to say that this is the most I've enjoyed Emily Bergl on stage--a really excellent performance from her as Sister Woman.

Shall we talk about Picnic and beefcake Sebastian Stan? I really love how the entire first scene is dedicated to ogling his shirtlessness (both by the audience and by the characters). Is it just me or is he a bit orange, though, as though he used bronzer instead of having a real tan? I'm sure that's healthier, and maybe it looked better from farther back, but I found it distracting. Also--and I hate to actually complain about all that skin--did they really have low-rise jeans back then?

Anyway, Stan is fantastic in the role (though any line that included "baby" sounded a bit off), and I'd go see him in anything (and I can't wait for the Captain America sequel). He certainly has a spin at Stanley Kowalski in his future. Also, he's a graceful dancer?! I wonder if he can sing ... I'm now fantasizing about him playing Riff in West Side Story. Seriously, as lovely as his physique is, I really, really just want to watch him dance some more.

The rest of the casting for Picnic is spot on, too. Stan's chemistry with Ben Rappaport and Maggie Grace is great. Really, everyone in the cast is fantastic, as you would expect from a group including Ellen Burstyn, Maddie Corman, Mare Winningham, Elizabeth Marvel, and Reed Birney. I mean, I've mentioned repeatedly how I love Reed Birney. Always. Grace is a good casting choice, and I was pleasantly suprised by her performance. But I especially liked Madeleine Martin, formerly of August: Osage County, as Millie, and I can't wait to see her in future shows.

I think I'm not back in New York for about six weeks, when I'll finally be seeing The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf, which has the best window card I've ever seen (it's already hanging on my wall). I've always loved Woolf, and I'm excited about seeing a lot of the Drood cast, including Conor McPherson regular Jim Norton, Stephanie Block, Chita Rivera(!!!), and Jessie Mueller. I hear it's a good time.

I suspect that in 2013 I'll be seeing fewer shows. I have less disposable income, and we just adopted two polydactyl cats, so I don't want to be gone every weekend until we've bonded more. Plus, I'd miss them! I'll try to be better about seeing Boston theater to make up for it. I need to start with getting a ticket to Pippin before it transfers to Broadway.

Here are the new cats, Jack (all black) and Milo (black and white). We adopted them from the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Mass.

(We considered calling Milo Fanty, for Phantom, since it kind of looks like he's wearing a mask, but the name didn't stick.)