Friday, February 28, 2014

QUICK REVIEWS 2013 [STICKY POST - Current reviews follow]

These are the shows I've seen in 2013 with a quick rating for each and links to any reviews I've done. Please scroll down for other recent posts.

I also have a list of shows I've seen since 2007. (Ok, it's quite a bit out of date now.)



Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Broadway (in previews)
Picnic - Broadway (in previews)

Other Desert Cities - Speakeasy - Boston






2012 reviews.
2011 reviews.

[Updated 2/4/2013]

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.)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Quick reviews 2012

These are the shows I've seen in 2012 with a quick rating for each and links to reviews (some still to come). Please scroll down for other recent posts.

I also have a list of shows I've seen since 2007. (Ok, it's a bit out of date now.)


Black Watch - National Theatre of Scotland at Shakespeare Theatre - D.C.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs - Public
Assassins - Broadway Reunion Concert - Roundabout
Cock - The Duke
Da - Gate - Dublin, Ireland
Dirt, Part I - HERE Summer Sublet Series
DruidMurphy cycle - Druid Theatre/Lincoln Center Festival
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - Company One - Boston
Freestyle Love Supreme
Once - New York Theatre Workshop and Broadway transfer
Prison Dancer: The Musical - NYMF
Tribes - Barrow Street
Uncle Vanya - Sydney Theatre Company/Lincoln Center Festival
The Whale - Playwrights Horizons

Assistance - Playwrights Horizons
The Best Man - Broadway
Billy Elliot - Broadway
The Canterbury Tales Remixed - SoHo Playhouse
Chimichangas and Zoloft - Atlantic
Falling - Minetta Lane Theatre
Glengarry Glen Ross - Broadway
An Iliad - New York Theatre Workshop
Lonely, I'm Not - Second Stage
Long Day's Journey into Night - New Rep - Boston
Macbeth - National Theatre of Scotland/Lincoln Center Festival
No Room for Wishing - Company One and Central Square Theater - Boston/Cambridge
A Number - Whistler in the Dark - Boston
Outside People - Vineyard
Slowgirl - Lincoln Center
Uncle Vanya - Soho Rep

Backbeat - Mirvish Productions - Toronto
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo - Company One - Boston
Bring It On - Broadway
Le Cabaret Grimm - NYMF
Car Talk - Underground Railway Theater - Cambridge
Chinglish - Broadway
The Columnist - Broadway
The Common Pursuit - Roundabout
Death of a Salesman - Broadway
Dogboy & Justine - workshop production at American Theater of Actors
An Early History of Fire - New Group
February House - Public
Fried Chicken and Latkes - Actors Temple Theatre
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Encores
Golden Age - New York City Center
Good People - Huntington - Boston
Harold and Maude musical - York Musicals at Mufti
Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Rose Tinted Productions/A.R.T. - Cambridge
*Hedwig and the Something Homunculus (that's what I remember about the working title) - workshop presentation at AFTERGLOW - Provincetown, MA
The Heiress - Broadway
If There Is, I Haven't Found It Yet - Roundabout
Ingmar Bergman's Persona - HERE Summer Sublet Series
Leap of Faith - Broadway
The Lyons - Broadway
Merrily We Roll Along - City Center Encores
Modern Terrorism, or They Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them - Second Stage
Next to Normal - Speakeasy - Boston
One Man, Two Guvnors - Broadway
Potted Potter - Little Shubert
Stick Fly - Broadway
Storefront Church - Atlantic
That Beautiful Laugh - La Mama
Through the Yellow Hour - Rattlestick
Two Gentlemen of Verona - Actors' Shakespeare Project - Somerville
Wit - Broadway

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Go see No Room for Wishing / Life update

(Hey. Go see No Room for Wishing. It's in Brooklyn Oct. 18, Boston Oct. 19, and Manhattan Oct. 22. More info at the bottom of this post.)

I have been a neglectful theater blogger again. I apologize to you and to myself. I know I get more out of the experience when I pause to reflect on the performance in the way that blogging about it requires. I have seen plenty of theater lately (well, never enough, but certainly more than many do), but I talk about it mostly in person with my theater wife, Lisa.

And I've connected with so many brilliant and funny theater fans on Twitter, so I've been discussing shows there. The immediacy and interactivity is quite fulfilling, but there's only so much you can say in a series of 140-character posts.

Also, my grandmother has needed more caregiving lately, which I have been happy to provide. I'm so lucky, as a 37-year-old, to have the opportunity to still have her in my life and so nearby. Her stories are amazing, and I just feel blessed to have the opportunity to get to know her better and better. But I hate that at 92 her eyesight and sense of balance are failing and that she's losing some of her independence.

On an entirely positive note, I have begun a part-time gig as the communications coordinator at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. I'm working on the e-newsletter and a website revamp, which is pretty exciting. (HTML, my old friend. WordPress, my new friend!) You may recall that I left my position as a book editor partly because of my reaction to seeing The Normal Heart. Academic publishing is worthwhile and very important, but I was aching to do something to more directly effect positive change in the world. And I believe MTPC is a great place to do that.

I don't have time to make an elegant transition to this, but I really highly recommend that you go see the fantastic actor Danny Bryck in his one-man documentary play about the Occupy movement. No Room for Wishing is an insightful look at the passion and conflicts within and around Occupy. His performance is stunning, as always. The characters (definitely unreliable narrators) are at times inspiring, funny, and embarrassing. Bryck is mostly a Boston-based actor, so if you're in New York, definitely take this opportunity to see him. He is one of the most exciting actors I've seen, and I make it a point to see every show he's in. (He was the best Hedwig since John Cameron Mitchell and great in Caryl Churchill's A Number.)

I'm working on an interview with Danny Bryck, but it seems unlikely that I'll have that ready by tomorrow. Sorry about that. In the meantime, just go see No Room for Wishing, please. You're welcome.

Friday, July 6, 2012

NYMF plans for the overly ambitious

As I am fantastically (purposely) unemployed this summer, I can finally gorge myself on shows at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. The shows seem to range from fetal to adolescent and awful to awesome. It's a very exciting gamble.

At NYMF 2011, I endured Fucking Hipsters! because I love Heather Robb of the band The Spring Standards. She was charming and sounded lovely, as usual, but the show was a mess and not really much fun. At NYMF 2010, Shine! really impressed me. It was a well-developed, full-scale musical (with a huge cast for such a small space) based on Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick stories and set in 1876. The staging was minimal and resourceful, reminding me a bit of Peter and the Starcatcher in that way. And Andy Mientus was really good.

So for NYMF 2012, I am cramming in as many shows as I can while I'm in town. Unfortunately, the scheduling means I'll miss one of the productions I was most looking forward to, Re-Animator The Musical (there's some punctuation missing in that title, no?).

Other shows that look promising but don't fit my calendar: Rio (set in a Brazilian favela), Stuck (strangers on public transportation), and Sidekicks! (about superheroes' lesser halves, starring Alex Brightman, recently of Nobody Loves You at San Diego's Old Globe, which it crushed me to miss).

In happier news, I have tickets to all the shows below. Please cross your fingers for me that the timing works out so that I can get to them all on time (and that I can crash the opening night party and Part of It All a bit late).

In chronological order:

* Himself and Nora (about James Joyce and Nora Barnacle)
* Happy Endings (a New Yorker inherits an independent bookstore in a small New England town)
* A Letter to Harvey Milk (as stated on tin?)
* Shelter (about a counselor at a Philadelphia women's shelter)
* Part of It All (work from new composers, lyricists, and performers)
* Zelda (about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
* Prisoner Dancer (Filipino maximum-security prisoners in a dance-based rehabilitation program)
* ZAPATA! (Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata steps out of the past to show a member of Occupy Wall Street how to fight for the 99%)
* Le Cabaret Grimm (punk cabaret)
* Stand Tall (a David and Goliath story ... with a Guitar Hero battle--and with the not-particularly-tall Gerard Canonico, of Spring Awakening and American Idiot, as Goliath)
* Swing State (click the link to read the description--I'm worried about the rampant stereotyping that will probably be included)