Every first Wednesday of the month, get caught up with what’s on stage with our review round-up. And that vaguely hollow, clinking sound you hear at the end of each segment? That’s me tossing in my two cents. For July, I’m keeping it relative by finally making it to see two “familial” holdovers from the season just ended:
The 1992 Whoopi Goldberg blockbuster about a runaway lounge singer inspiring a convent choir gets a 70’s-infused stage adaptation with songs by multiple Oscar-winner Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater.
“…has all the depth of a communion wafer, and possibly a little less bite.” New York Times
“…one of the season’s happiest surprises.” New York Post
“…may be less giddily profane, and thought-provoking, than The Book of Mormon, but it has its own distinct and surprising charms.” USA Today
“…the decision to plaster Goldberg’s name on numerous signs outside the theater raises comparisons that flatter neither Miller nor this garish production.” Variety
Mizer’s Two Cents: As I inched my way out of the theater after seeing Sister Act, I turned to my partner and said, “My Mom would love this show.” That’s not intended as an insult. Other than the fact that my mother has a potty mouth and enjoys a good female-centric comedy, she digs nuns. Her best friend is an ex-nun. And this musical truly comes alive when the nuns are rocking out in sparkling habits. Sure, it’s not for everyone. The story wobbles at times and I missed some of the down and out, “been there done that” danger Whoopi brought, but I grinned every time those sisters started holy rolling. Momma’s boy, indeed. And a prayer of thanks to the lovely Victoria Clark as Mother Superior. She imbues the role with a light touch and a steely reserve that rings entirely true amidst the sequins and Catholic jokes.
An ex-con and former addict attempts to stay straight while dealing with his junkie girlfriend and slick AA sponsor in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ new comedy-drama. (Limited Engagement ends July 17.)
“This is by far the most accomplished and affecting work from the gifted Mr. Guirgis…” New York Times
“…Rock is a lightweight: The more experienced, more assured Cannavale knocks him out without even trying.” New York Post
“…highly entertaining yet frustratingly evanescent new black comedy…” New York Magazine
“Funny indeed — not to mention surprising, disturbing and poignant.” USA Today
Mizer’s Two Cents: Chris Rock may be the glittering name on the marquee but the script is the real star. Funny, wildly profane and true, Guirgis’ play surprised me with each new twist and revelation. (Check out David Carr’s insightful take on the show’s depiction of addiction.) In fact, I can’t wait to see this show when it steps off the big stage and moves into smaller, scrappier regional productions. I think it will gain sizzle and depth when you are able to lose yourself in performances by lesser known actors and when the action is more intimate. Side note: I don’t know how these actors have performed this play eight times a week; it’s a verbal brawl performed at full throttle and highest decibel. In particular, Tony nominee Elizabeth Rodriguez either has the best stage yelling technique ever or vocal chords of steel.