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Opening Night: ‘Falsettos’ on Broadway

October 27th, 2016 Comments off

falsettosThe much-anticipated revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos opens tonight on Broadway with an all-star cast that includes Stephanie J. Block (Wicked), Christian Borle (Something Rotten!, Peter and the Starcatcher), Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Hamilton), Tracie Thoms (Rent), Brandon Uranowitz (An American in Paris) and Betsy Wolfe (Bullets Over Broadway).

Co-book writer and original director James Lapine is back to helm this new production being brought to Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater, the company behind 2015’s Tony winning best revival The King and I.

Take a look behind the scenes…

Review Round-Up: Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

March 16th, 2013 Comments off

L-R: Billy Magnussen, Kristine Nielsen, Sigourney Weaver, Genevieve Angelson, and David Hyde Pierce in "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike". (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Christopher Durang is at it again. The author of such absurdist hits (and acting school favorites) as The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Beyond Therapy is taking a jab at Chekhov — the master of theatrical realism. But instead of a Russian summer estate, Durang plops his characters in the middle of Bucks County, Pennsylvania for a riotous tour de force. The cast includes Tony and Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver and Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce.

Here’s what the critics had to say after opening night…

“In Durang Land, of course, heartache is generally fodder for belly laughs. There are enough sprinkled throughout his latest play to keep the temperature in the theater from cooling for long, although this romp through an Americanized version of Russian anomie is more a series of loosely connected set pieces than a cogently put-together play. (With little more than a postage-stamp of plot to embroider, Mr. Durang has his characters dress up as Disney cartoons and wander off to a costume party.)” The New York Times

“Restraint has never really been Durang’s thing. (After all, this is the man who turned the war on terror into a comedy called Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.) Whatever he borrows from long-dead Russian playwrights, Vanya and Sonia… is entirely, indisputably, oh-no-he-didn’t classic Durang.” Entertainment Weekly

“The performances, first-rate from the start, have all gotten richer and sharper, and the ensemble playing is beautifully timed and textured. Sigourney Weaver’s narcissistic Masha is better integrated, every emotion radiating with childlike intensity as she thrashes about attempting to control events. Kristine Nielsen’s loopy Sonia—her Maggie Smith impersonation is priceless—is an ideal foil, full of vinegar and gall yet also touchingly vulnerable, especially during a hopeful phone call with a prospective suitor. As Vanya, David Hyde Pierce lies in wait for most of the night, landing his laughs with an eyebrow lift or a muttered quip, until he explodes into all-stops-out hilarity with a meltdown about the drawbacks of modernity.” Backstage

Golden Theatre
252 West 45th Street
www.vanyasoniamashaspike.com 

 

A Texas Two-Step: Review of “ANN” on Broadway

March 9th, 2013 Comments off

The Broadway Blog sent contributor Lindsay B. Davis to Lincoln Center for a Texas treat. Lindsay is an arts/culture journalist, actress, playwright and director. She resides in New York City.

“ANN” starring Holland Taylor at Lincoln Center Theater

At one point during the performance of Lincoln Center Theater’s ANN, a one-woman play written and performed by Emmy-nominated actress and first time playwright Holland Taylor, I turned to my fellow theatergoer and whispered, “I love her.” I no longer knew if I was referring to Taylor or the late ex-governor of Texas, Ann Richards, whom the actress portrays with warmth, intelligence and a physicality that captures the essence of her inspiration.

So it goes when an actress seamlessly gets out of the way to let a compelling character emerge. One doesn’t need to know anything about Ann Richards to enjoy ANN. It lives and breathes on its own as a solid work of theater, albeit a slightly uneven one as far as plot and storytelling goes. Familiar or not with the tough-talking, charming, witty political pioneer and champion of liberal values, feminism and the zingy retort, ANN satisfies beyond measure.

The play has a strong first act and immediately turns the audience into guests of a fictionalized commencement speech at a college in Texas. Taylor emerges in head to toe white, sporting Richards’s trademark coif, a power suit adorned with a diamond star brooch (representing not just the Lone Star state but the lucky star under which she believes to have been born), and smart heels. Through animated storytelling, we hear about Richards’s childhood in Waco, first foray into public service and office, various political inspirations and supporters, marriage to a civil rights lawyer, plus glimpses of her unapologetic descent into alcoholism and later, recovery.

Taylor almost dances across the stage as she entertains and tells jokes, some dirty, which she learned from her warm-hearted dad (Did you hear the one about the Terrier and Great Dane?). She speaks with the delight and skill of a seasoned cabaret artist or vaudevillian comedian. One can’t help but wonder if the real governor Richards was this entertaining but it doesn’t really matter. You’re too busy laughing to care.

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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: 2012 Fall Preview, The Plays

September 12th, 2012 Comments off

Steppenwolf's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?". Photo by Michael Brosilow.

If the fall season’s crop of musicals is a sparse and eccentrically planted lot, the roster of plays is lush with big ideas, big stars and must-see events (if a few too many “didn’t we just see that” revivals). So let’s dig into the harvest feast…

"Grace". Image via O+M Co.

An Enemy of the People (September 27): Henrik Ibsen’s sturdy study of personal pressure and politics kicks things off just in time for election season. Class acts Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas play brothers, a mayor and a doctor, on opposite sides of an environmental disaster in the making. (Yeah, this was written when?)

Grace (October 4): As I’ve said before…Paul Rudd. I lerve him. Toss in the always magnetic Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and my interest is more than peaked for this surreal comedy-drama about a couple’s plans for religious-themed motels and their less than faithful neighbor.

Running on Empty (October 9): Comedian and professional ranter Lewis Black brings his stand-up to Broadway for a week of performances.

Cyrano de Bergerac (October 11): The French war horse (no, not that one) gets trotted out for another display of witty banter, actorly showmanship and much-needed rhinoplasty. Tony-winner Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles) takes on the title role in a Roundabout Theatre revival.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (October 13): The revelatory Steppenwolf production starring playwright (and seriously accomplished actor) Tracy Letts and the incomparable Amy Morton finally makes it to Broadway. Check my review from when I saw it at Arena Stage last year and tell me you aren’t a wee bit excited to see the Albee classic again.

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