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Stream the Best of Off-Broadway on BroadwayHD

September 26th, 2016 Comments off

Sometimes a trip to New York City isn’t in the cards for theater fans. Fortunately, BroadwayHD brings the best of live theater right into your living room. These three titles have been added to BroadwayHD’s on-demand library:

(l to r) Will Gallagher, James Ortiz, and Eliza Martin Simpson in 'The Woodsman .' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Will Gallagher, James Ortiz, and Eliza Martin Simpson in ‘The Woodsman .’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The Woodsman (2016) BroadwayHD captured a live performance of Off-Broadway’s The Woodsman on May 28, 2016. Based on the beloved writings of L. Frank Baum, The Woodsman, is an imaginative retelling of the origins of Oz’s Tin Man, the woman he loved, and the witch that would stop at nothing to keep them apart. Through spectacular life-size puppetry and original music, the ensemble of Strangemen & Co. presents an inventive take on one of America’s original fairy tales. The Woodsman stars creator, director, designer, and  puppeteer James Ortiz as Nick Chopper, the Woodsman.


(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in 'Buried Child.' (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in ‘Buried Child.’ (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

Buried Child (2016) BroadwayHD streamed Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child live on March 30, 2016 from Off-Broadway’s The New Group at The Pershing Square Signature Center. This critically-acclaimed theatrical production is directed by Scott Elliott and stars Taissa Farmiga, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Larry Pine, Rich Sommer, Paul Sparks and Nat Wolff. This wildly poetic and cuttingly funny take on the American family drama gleefully pulls apart the threadbare deluded visions of our families and our homes.    


(l to r) Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub, and David Shiner in 'Old Hats." (Photo: Thomas Garcia via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub, and David Shiner in ‘Old Hats.” (Photo: Thomas Garcia via The Broadway Blog.)

Old Hats (2016) BroadwayHD presented a live stream of Signature Theatre’s Old Hats, on April 2, 2016, at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Old Hats is created and performed by Bill Irwin and David Shiner. Music and lyrics by and featuring Shaina Taub.

Excavating the American Dream: The New Group’s ‘Buried Child’

March 3rd, 2016 Comments off
(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in 'Buried Child.' (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in ‘Buried Child.’ (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

It is not easy to watch The New Group’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Buried Child. Originally produced in San Francisco, then New York City, in 1978, the play was later revived in 1996 on Broadway, earning accolades (the production was a transfer from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.) Now, a decade later, director Scott Elliott helms this complex work that tackles the disintegration of an American family during the agricultural and economic wasteland of the 1970s.

Ed Harris (four-time Academy Award nominee) and Amy Madigan (The Jacksonian, A Streetcar Named Desire) lead the cast in Shepard’s postmodern play that teeters on realism while weaving in surrealistic layerings of symbolism and purposefully repetitive passages of text. As the withering patriarch Dodge, Harris nails this delicate balance, as does Madigan, as his churchgoing wife, Halie, who functions in a world of the past while casting aside the horrific and incestuous happenings that undermine their children.

The sons, Tilden (Paul Sparks) and Bradley (Rich Sommer), reside at the family farmhouse, in a sort of hazy nonexistence. It’s only when Tilden’s son, Vince (Nat Wolff) shows up with his girlfriend Shelly (Taissa Farmiga) that the family quilt begins to quickly unravel. Without delivering any spoilers, let’s just say that the existing family unit is none too eager to welcome Vince back to the farm. And while he dashes off to buy booze for Dodge, his girlfriend’s inquisitive nature helps usher some skeletons out of the closet. Halie returns to the house with Father Dewis (Larry Pine) to find havoc in the household, and ultimately a tragic truth, deeply buried (both literally and figuratively), finally comes to light.

While Harris and Madigan are deft at navigating Shepard’s nuanced style, Wolff and Farmiga struggle to find their footing. Emotions are distilled to screaming and flippant rebuttals, leaving these integral characters as mere cut-outs against an in-depth backdrop.

This play won’t be everyone’s theatrical cup of tea. It’s uncomfortable subject matter and Shepard’s unforgiving delivery of it makes for a squeamish 90 minutes. But if you can take it, there’s something to unearth in Buried Child.

Here’s what other critics are saying:

“Directed by Scott Elliott and anchored by a deeply textured yet effortless performance by Ed Harris, the revival doesn’t strain for shock, emphasizing ordinary rather than grotesque aspects of its characters’ lives. . . I still want to see a bolder, more apocalyptic revival of this big (yet small) play, with a uniformly strong cast, knockout visuals and a directorial vision that finds more exciting ways to unlock the horror and madness at its core. Still, while this may not be the finest Buried Child you’ll see, the play only comes around every 20 years, and it’s worth a homecoming.” David Cote – Time Out New York

“Some of its shock value has worn off, but “Buried Child” (which has not been seen in New York in two decades) remains a gritty, mysterious, often engrossing portrait of domestic life gone to hell, as demonstrated by Scott Elliott’s well-acted Off-Broadway revival on behalf of the New Group.” Matt Windman – amNew York

“Harris’ unforced and potent performance in the New Group’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer-winning 1978 drama makes this engaging but unevenly acted production worthwhile. . . Buried Child isn’t exactly subtle but it still grabs and sends shivers.” Joe Dziemianowicz – Daily News

Buried Child
Presented by The New Group
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
Through April 3

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo