Showing posts from October, 2015

Week in Review 10.30.15

Students Have a Shot at Seeing Hamilton
Through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, 20,000 NYC students will have the opportunity to purchase $10 (i.e., a Hamilton) tickets to Hamilton. The partnership is part of an initiative to integrate "the show into classroom studies," Deadline reports. Students who get to see the show (at select matinees beginning April 13, 2016) will sometimes have the opportunity to stay for a talk-back with the cast, and will receive supporting educational materials to reinforce what is sure to be the coolest history lesson they'll ever receive. (In other Hamilton news, the production's stage manager, John Bassett, is featured in the Wall Street Journal, where he talks about the intricacies of keeping the show running smoothly night after night.)

Humans on Broadway
The Humans will bow on Broadway next year. Dates and a theatre have not been announced, but the off-Broadway cast, which includes Reed Birney and Arian Moayed, will make the tr…


Let's be real: Annaleigh Ashford is the best thing about the revival of Sylvia, A.R. Gurney's play about an empty nest couple, Greg (Matthew Broderick) and Kate (Julie White), whose marriage is tested when Greg brings home a stray dog, the titular Sylvia, played to perfection by Ashford. (Robert Sella also appears in a few different roles throughout the play.)

Ashford is a comedic genius (she rightfully won a Tony for her performance in You Can't Take It With You), and is fearless on stage. She seemingly leaves all traces of vanity behind, rolling around on the floor, chasing other actors on the stage and just generally giving her body over to the hilarity that is a person playing a sentient, speaking dog. She is simply aces, and always a delight to watch on stage. (She's great on screen, too. Catch her on Masters of Sex.)

Aside from Ashford's performance, what I found particularly interesting about the play (directed by Daniel Sullivan) was how having a person pla…

Steve Jobs

As I was walking out of Steve Jobs, a fellow moviegoer started talking to me about the film. He works at Tekserve, and has seen other movies about Jobs and Silicon Valley. As he spoke about his disappointment in the film, it became clear that he was heavily invested in the people portrayed, in the facts of the story told. I, of course, had different expectations.

I'm not into tech. I don't care much about Steve Jobs, though I understand and can appreciate the impact he's had on modern technology and the way we live our lives (i.e., tethered to the devices he created). I'm even writing this on a MacBook. But I cared less about the people being portrayed than the characters being brought to life, and less about the facts than the truth of the human story being told.

In these regards, Steve Jobs is a compelling film (and there's absolutely no reason it should be rated R, other than that the squares at the MPAA don't like the word "fuck"). I didn't lo…

Before Your Very Eyes

I walked into the theatre and saw a handful of children (ranging in age from about 10 to about 15, I think) playing behind a see-through partition. Throughout the pre-show, they played various games in what looks like a typical rec room. (There are giant screens on both sides of the stage.) I wondered if I was going to be watching children play for the duration of the show, and, if so, what that would amount to as a theatrical experience.

I did watch them play, but there was more to it than that. A voice (Rigley Riley) speaks to and prompts the children, and for the next 70 minutes, we watch as the children grow up, before our very eyes. They are playing dress up, going through different stages of life. In effect, the Gob Squad (the theatrical team that created the show; Bridget Kelso Anthony is the performance coach) presented a meditation on life and death, and reflected our lives back to us. (The mirrored back wall didn't hurt.)

The live action on stage is interspersed with pr…

The Humans

Stephen Karam's play is so perfectly titled. The Humans is a deceivingly simple title, two seemingly innocuous words, but as humans, we know that there's much more—complexities, universal truths, timeless family dynamics—to simply being a human, and over the course of one Thanksgiving dinner, Karam delves into them all.

Brigid (Sarah Steele) and her (older) boyfriend, Richard (Arian Moayed), are hosting Brigid's family for Thanksgiving in their new downtown Manhattan duplex. Brigid's sister, Aimee (Cassie Beck), recently got out of a long-term relationship with her girlfriend; Brigid's parents, Erik and Deidre (Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell, respectively), are being parents, worrying about their daughters, while dealing with their own stresses, including taking care of Erik's mother, lovingly referred to as Momo (Lauren Klein), who is in the beginning stages of dementia.

Playing out in real time, The Humans allows us to, essentially, be flies on the walls of …

Week in Review 10.23.15

Off-Broadway Othello to Star David Oyelowo
Golden Globe and Emmy nomineeDavid Oyelowo (Selma) will return to the stage, playing the title role in Shakespeare's classic tragedy, Othello. The New York Theatre Workshop production will also star Daniel Craig (James Bond), who'll play the villain Iago. Dates and additional casting for the 2016 off-Broadway production have yet to be announced, but we do know that Tony winnerSam Gold (Fun Home, The Flick) will direct. Theater Mania has more.

Justin Peck and Amar Ramasar Win Bessie Awards
Justin Peck's stunning and romantic ballet, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes won a Bessie Award for Outstanding Production. Peck took to Instagram and Twitter to express his gratitude to his collaborators, his mentors, like the late Albert Evans, and to Aaron Copland, whose music Peck reinterpreted to create his own Rodeo. (Pioneering director and choreographer Agnes de Mille famously used the same music for her landmark work.)

In addition, Amar Ramasar, w…


A quick note about David Lindasy-Abaire's latest, Ripcord. The play, directed by David Hyde Pierce (La Bete), finds two senior citizens, Marilyn (Marylouise Burke (Fish in the Dark)) and Abby (Holland Taylor (Ann)), sharing a room at an assisted living facility. The are most certainly an odd couple, with Marilyn being upbeat and continually nattering on about something or other, trying to get to know her roommate, and Abby the buttoned-up woman of manners, cool and collected throughout. After a trip to a haunted house (seriously), the ladies make a bet: If Marilyn can scare Abby, Marilyn gets the better bed. If Abby can anger Marilyn, Marilyn moves out.

And so the stakes are set and all sorts of silly shenanigans ensue, including a sky diving sequence (again, seriously). It's fun to watch the two ladies needle each other. They are sometimes visited by Scotty (Nate Miller (Of Good Stock)), who works at the facility, as well as Marilyn's daughter and son-in-law, played by R…

First Daughter Suite

It takes a lot of talented people to make a lousy show. Michael John LaChiusa's new musical is First Daughter Suite. You'd think it would focus on the many first daughters to live in the White House, but you would be wrong. Split into four vignettes, First Daughter Suite attempts to get into the minds of the first ladies, particularly in the first and fourth vignettes. (The second is the only one that truly lives up to the title.)

We begin with "Happy Pat," set on June 11, 1972, as Tricia Nixon (Betsy Morgan) is getting ready for her White House wedding. Her younger sister, Julie Nixon Eisenhower (Caissie Levy), is around to help/bother (take your pick) the bride, but LaChiusa's efforts are trained on delving into Pat Nixon (Barbara Walsh)'s psyche. To do so, he conjures the ghost of Hannah Nixon (Theresa McCarthy), Tricky Dick's deceased mother. Levy (Hair, Les Miserables) is great as mean girl Julie, and it's nice to see Walsh (Company) on stage, bu…

City Ballet: Harlequinade and NY Export: Opus Jazz

The New York City Ballet fall season has come to a close, but before it did, I got to see works by founding choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

First was George Balanchine's two-act narrative ballet, Harlequinade. I tend to shy away from narrative ballets, as most of them have a lot of graceful gesturing and not a lot of dancing. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the wealth of actual dancing in Harlequinade, which is Balanchine's tribute to Marius Petipa's Les Millions d'Harlequin and features a host of commedia dell'arte characters. (The ballet is set to Riccardo Drigo's music, which he composed for Petipa's ballet.)

The story is fairly simple. Columbine (Ashley Bouder) and Harlequin (Andrew Veyette) are in love but Columbine's father, Cassandre (Giovanni Villalobos), disapproves. He hires a few stooges to get rid of Harlequin, while bringing in Leandre (Aaron Sanz), his wealthy choice of suitor. Meanwhile, Pierrot (Anthony Huxle…

Week in Review 10.16.15

Ask a Star: Robbie Fairchild and Leanne Cope
The Tony-nominated stars of An American in Paris are the latest to sit down on the couch and answer fans' questions (including mine!) in the latest installment of Ask a Star.

Casting News
Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Graceland) will lead the cast of a new CBS series, Brain Dead. The show is set in DC, and imagines what would happen if aliens took over the Capitol and started eating elected officials' brains. (Different from now how...?) The series is set to premiere next summer. has more.

Full casting has been announced for Gigantic, the new musical set to play off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre this fall. Bring It On alumnae Taylor Louderman and Ryann Redmond are among the cast members, as well as Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair, The Memory Show), Andrew Durand (War Horse) and others. Previews begin November 11, with opening night set for December 3. The limited engagement is scheduled to conclude on Decem…