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Showing posts from October, 2016

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

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“Those most worthy of love are never made happy by it," but that doesn't stop the characters in Les Liaisons Dangereuses from pursuing it.

The action of Christopher Hampton's play is set in Paris and the French countryside in the early 1780s, and centers on the chess match being played by one-time lovers La Marquise de Merteuil (Janet McTeer, making a meal out of Hampton's words) and Le Vicomte de Valmont (Liev Schreiber). The Marquise wants Valmont to seduce the virginal Cecile (Elena Kampouris) so as to humiliate Merteuil's ex. Valmont thinks that’s too easy, and, anyway, has his sights set on Madame de Tourvel (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), a married woman with a reputation for moral certitude. Tourvel is, helpfully, staying with Valmont's aunt, Madame de Rosemonde (Mary Beth Peil). The Marquise and Valmont agree on a bargain: If Valmont can conquer the virtuous Tourvel—and provide written proof of the affair—his reward will be a night with the Marquise.

This…

Week in Review 10.28.16

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Casting News
Tony nomineeBrian d'Arcy James (Something Rotten, Spotlight) will star alongside Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in the Aaron Sorkin-penned flick, Molly's Game, about a woman who runs a high-profile poker game in Hollywood. Deadline has more.

Nathaniel Stampley will join the company of The Color Purple in the role of Mister, beginning November 15. Current Mister, Isaiah Johnson, will play his final performance November 13. Playbill has more. 

House of Cards will welcome Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island, The Elephant Man) and Campbell Scott (Noises Off) for its fifth season. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, their roles are being kept under wraps, but promise to be significant throughout the season.

Paul Alexander Nolan (Bright Star) will step into the role of Billy Flynn in the long-running Chicago revival. Nolan begins performances October 31. Broadway.com has more.

Billy Eichner has joined the cast of the upcoming Netflix series, Friends from College, for a four-e…

Falsettos

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There's an informative history of Falsettos on the Lincoln Center Theatre blog. It traces Falsettos' origins, from In Trousers to March of the Falsettos (nee Four Jews in a Room Bitching) to Falsettoland, providing background and context, as well as insight into its significance in famed off-Broadway company, Playwrights Horizons. It does not, however, make me like the show more.

Falsettos, written by William Finn (score and book) and James Lapine (book), focuses on Marvin (Christian Borle), and his desire for a tight knit family. Set in 1979 (act one) and 1981 (act two), we meet Marvin just after he's left his wife, Trina (Stephanie J. Block), and son, Jason (Anthony Rosenthal), to be with his lover, Whizzer (Andrew Rannells). Marvin must navigate his sexuality, relationships, and familial needs, while Trina and Jason figure out how to move forward. (They'll be aided by Mendel (Brandon Uranowitz), a therapist-turned-Trina's love interest.) In act two, these relat…

Sunday in the Park with George

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Unfortunately, the glorious concert version of Sunday in the Park with George played only four performances. But what a treat for those of us who got to see it. With the limited run now concluded, herein you'll find just a few notes about the production.

Tony winnerAnnaleigh Ashford is magical. I am convinced there's nothing she can't do. Her Dot was funny and sensitive and heartfelt and layered, and her Marie was equally funny and touching. I feel lucky that I've had the chance watch her career blossom (from a Heathers reading and a member of the replacement Tribe to Kinky Boots and her Tony-winning turn in You Can't Take It With You), and look forward to watching her perform for years to come.

Jake Gyllenhaal was so good presenting a portrait of an artist as a young man. His two Georges seemed different on the surface, but Gyllenhaal showed how similar they are. He loses himself in characters, delving deep into their psyche, and, here, he painted George with the mo…

A Life

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Sometimes, you really need an intermission. An intermission gives the audience an opportunity to reflect on what they've just watched, to think about what certain things mean, to wonder about what might happen next. In the subsequent act(s), they can build upon their intermission musings, connecting the dots and truly figuring out what's going on. But sometimes you don't get that chance. Sometimes, in theatre, there's no intermission, and sometimes, in a life, there's no second act.

Playwright Adam Bock presents an examined life from the perspective of Nate Martin (David Hyde Pierce), a middle-aged gay man who is keen to make sense of his life via astrological charts. (He's not a wack-a-doo, I promise.) The play begins with Nate directly addressing the audience, as if we're a psychiatrist to whom he's proving his mental health.

I was unexpectedly moved by Pierce's performance. Maybe it's leftover (petty) resentment that he won the Tony Award in …

Week in Review 10.21.16

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees
The nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2017 have been announced. Artists are eligible (though not always nominated and, certainly, not always chosen for induction) 25 years after their first release. First time nominees include Pearl Jam (first year eligible), Tupac (first year eligible), and Bad Brains, while Janet Jackson, Chic, Chaka Khan, Journey, and Yes are among repeat nominees. Fans can see all the nominees and vote for their choice on Rolling Stone. Those artists selected for induction into the Rock Hall will be announced in December. The ceremony will be held in Brooklyn in April 2017, and HBO will air an edited version of the ceremony in May.

Coming to Broadway and the West End
Emmy winner and Tony nominee Allison Janney (The West Wing, 9 to 5) and Tony winnerJohn Benjamin Hickey (The Normal Heart) are heading back to Broadway in a revival of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. Directed by Trip Cullman (The Layover

Plenty

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I don't have much to say about Plenty because I don't think that much of it. The David Hare (Skylight) play focuses on Susan Traherne (Rachel Weisz), who does some spy/undercover work during WWII, and Raymond Brock (Corey Stoll), a diplomat (of sorts) with whom Susan develops a relationship.

In program notes, Public Theatre artistic director Oskar Eustis says the play charts "the disillusionment of the post-war years." I was disillusioned with the undue hype surrounding this production. The play premiered at the Public in 1982, and this production is the first major New York revival. Many people were excited for it (I was excited to see Weisz and Stoll). What a disappointment they were.

That's not entirely fair. They were not disappointing. It's the material. Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz and Corey Stoll are terrific actors; we know this. Unfortunately, they have no chemistry on stage, leaving a void where there is supposed to be dramatic tension or intri…

Love, Love, Love

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The Beatles famously sang, "all you need is love (love, love)." Were the Fab Four right? That question is at the crux of Mike Bartlett's new play, Love, Love, Love, enjoying its New York debut in a terrific Roundabout production.

Bartlett (Cock, King Charles III) is a great writer and a keen observer of relationships, and he proves as much with this decade-spanning serio-comedy that traces the relationship of Kenneth (Richard Armitage, appealing, commanding, charming) and Sandra (Amy Ryan, sharp, cunning, captivating) from the swinging 60s to present day, all under the direction of Tony winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot).

Act one begins in the 60s. Feminism is blossoming. People are exploring, trying new things. In the process, they are finding out or coming to terms with what old things mean under these new circumstances. This dynamic is explored as we meet Kenneth and Sandra, as well as Kenneth brother, Henry (Alex Hurt). Kenneth is crashing on H…

NYCB: 21st Century Choreographers

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Notes on the 21st Century Choreographers program:

(This program was supposed to include the new ballet by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Unframed, which debuted at the NYCB fall gala. As occasionally happens, the program was changed, and instead of Unframed, we saw the After the Rain pas de deux.)

For Clara: This marks principal dancer Lauren Lovette's choreographic debut with the Company, making her one of the few women to have choreographed for the New York City Ballet. (Lovette choreographed when she was a student, but not since joining the Company.) Lovette uses "Introduction and Concert-Allegro, Op. 134" by Robert Schumann, and has said that the title of her ballet is an homage to Schumann's wife, Clara. As this was created for the fall gala, which, for several years, has seen the fusion of fashion and ballet, fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez designed the costumes (so you can thank him for dressing Zachary Catazaro in nothing by tight dance pants).

Lovette's work is…

The Cherry Orchard

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One of the great things about a revival is that you get to revisit and, if you're lucky, reimagine a classic. British director Simon Godwin had the idea of getting an American take on Anton Chekhov's notable work, and enlisted the help of Tony Award winning playwright Stephen Karam (The Humans). Together (and with the aid of a more diverse cast than most productions of The Cherry Orchard), they put an American spin on the Russian staple, making it vital and relevant. (Oh, and funny. People don't often think of Chekhov as funny, but he is, even more so as interpreted by Karam.)

As stated in my review of the CSC production of The Cherry Orchard, which starred John Turturro and Dianne Wiest, the plot revolves around Lyubov (Diane Lane). She and her brother, Leonid (John Glover, whose clowning and slapstick is just right for the role), live beyond their means, and are faced with the prospect of selling their estate, the estate on which they grew up and which is home to the tit…