The State of Gay Love? Daniel’s Husband and Gently Down The Stream Reviews

The gay couples at the heart of two separate plays currently running Off-Broadway have been together for years, and yet, neither are married because one partner in each of the relationships doesn’t want to be, apparently on philosophical grounds:

“Who ever said we were meant to be legal?” Harvey Fierstein as Beauregard says in “Gently Down The Stream,” a play by Martin Sherman through May 21st at the Public Theater. “ We’re supposed to be outlaws; we’re supposed to be inventing new rules, not imitating all the old conventions, not going backwards.”

“The entire concept of marriage, I find it outdated, musty and fundamentally wrong… The only thing to be gained by gay marriage is the legal stuff,” Matthew Motolongo as Mitchell says in “Daniel’s Husband,” a play by Michael McKeever, in a Primary Stages production through April 28 at the Cherry Lane. “We’ve gone to our lawyer and had all of that taken care of.”

The decision not to get married has unforeseen consequences in both new dramas. Do these plays say anything about the state of love after the nation-wide legalization in 2015 of marriage between two people of the same gender? Or do they say more about the state of gay playwriting?

Click on any photograph by James Leynse to see it enlarged.

“Daniel’s Husband” begins the way so many gay plays have in the 49 years since “Boys in the Band” first opened Off-Broadway – gay friends gathered together making witty banter. At a dinner party in a tastefully appointed home (admirably detailed by set designer Brian Prather), we get to know Mitchell, who makes a living as a gay romance novelist, an odd occupation given his cynicism; and Daniel (Ryan Spahn), his partner of seven years, an architect who clearly likes structure in his life; he does want to get married. Their guests for the evening are Barry (Lou Liberatore), Mitchell’s literary agent and best friend, and Barry’s date, Trip (Leland Wheeler), whom Barry met just a few weeks earlier, one of an endless series of short-lasting Barry boyfriends less than half his age. Trip, 23, has never seen a record album before, and he doesn’t understand Mitchell’s attitude towards marriage.

Almost an hour into the 90-minute running time, “Daniel’s Husband” turns into a different play. Since the second half is fresher and more powerful, I feel comfortable revealing what is obviously meant to be a surprise twist, but shouldn’t be. Daniel gets deathly ill, unable to speak. This winds up putting Mitchell at odds – psychologically, and legally — with Lydia, Daniel’s mother. In the first half of the play, we heard Daniel say that Lydia was a selfish mother, and we saw her during a visit drinking champagne and badmouthing Daniel’s dead father. This was preparation for her becoming the villain in the second half. This is true even though (or maybe in part because) she says: “I’m not the villain in this. There is no villain in this.” But she is made the classic straw man – a character who exists to be knocked down.

Given Mitchell’s explicit arguments against gay marriage in the first half of the play, the turn of events becomes an implicit refutation of Mitchell’s beliefs, a one-sided argument for the necessity of gay people getting married. “Daniel’s Husband” becomes an odd and simplistic cautionary tale. Only the acting under Joe Brancato’s direction saves us from utter authorial strong-arming. Rather than deriving any satisfaction at what we could take as Mitchell’s comeuppance, we are moved by Montelongo’s depiction of Mitchell’s desperate love for Daniel. Similarly, both Anna Holbrook as Lydia the selfish mother and Leland Wheeler as Trip the twink defy the potential for stereotype baked into their roles.

Just as Lydia and Mitchell wind up warring with one another, so do the two halves of the play. Both wars are undermining…and avoidable. Had McKeever begun “Daniel’s Husband” with Daniel’s illness – and shelved the first half, perhaps to be used in a future play – “Daniel’s Husband” might have been a wholly affecting drama.

Click on any photographs by Joan Marcus to see them enlarged.

Like Michael McKeever in “Daniel’s Husband,” playwright Martin Sherman in “Gently Down the Stream” seems to believe that same-sex marriage is important, and that there is some resistance to it from within the gay community that he finds regrettable. But Sherman’s approach is less an argument than a simple explanation for attitudes like Beau’s.

Beau (Harvey Fierstein) is a New Orleans-born piano accompanist who lives as an expatriate American in a London flat lined with books (the elegant set is by Derek McLane.) The play begins in 2001, when Beau, using a new-fangled online dating site, has just hooked up with Rufus (Gabriel Ebert, Tony winner for Matilda, and a veteran of Fierstein’s Casa Valentina.) Rufus is a 28-year-old eccentric, bipolar lawyer. Beau is 62. Beau doesn’t expect this “assignation” to last beyond a day. “I’m old enough to be your ancestor.” Yet it develops into a relationship that we track through some sharp-edge curves over the next 13 years.

“Gently Down the Stream” also has a second track. Rufus is interested – obsessed – with gay history. He doesn’t just ask Beau many questions about the past; he insists on videotaping Beau’s recollections. Much of “Gently Down The Stream” is taken up with these recollections, rather awkwardly inserted monologues about old lovers meeting tragic ends – “I knew it would end badly, because that was just simply the way it was with our lot” — and sad moments in gay history. It turns out that, much like Zelig or Forrest Gump, Beau has a talent for being at the right place at the right time – or, with certain tragic events, the exact wrong place. He was also friends, or at least acquainted, with such gay celebrities as Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin and Larry Kramer, and lesser known but no less intriguing historical figures, like singer Mabel Mercer (Beau was her accompanist.) Add in the references to AIDS and the crystal meth epidemic among gay men, and the play starts to feel like a forced crash course in gay life. There is another rich layer simply in the casting of Harvey Fierstein, who since his Broadway debut as the author and star of Torch Song Trilogy in 1982, has himself become a figure in gay history.

All of Beau’s recounting of both his personal and communal past, much of it morose, offers a bracing explanation for the character’s pessimism about the future. Even the gay moments (in both senses of the word) are laced with melancholy. In one of his monologues, Beau recalls how “gay life, always secret and furtive and forbidden, blossomed” during World War II, and tells the story he heard from a veteran named Sam of a soldier from the hinterlands, temporarily stationed in New York, taking a room at the YMCA to have sex for the first time with another man, and jubilantly singing the nursery rhyme “Row, row, row your boat/gently down the stream” – which had an odd effect:

“…and suddenly from another room, he heard another soldier’s voice, joining in, a very deep baritone, and then from another room, another voice, and, and then the entire Young Men’s Christian Association, including Sam, seemed to be singing, but not just singing, singing a roundelay, everyone remembering their own childhood and the pain of it, and now suddenly this sense of release….Sam said that was the happiest moment of his life. “

But such euphoria ended abruptly, repression returned at the end of the war, and when Beau met Sam, he had become a drunken bum in Rio.

Beau’s experiences, and that of his circle, have bred in him a sense of hopelessness, leading him to self-sabotage. Convinced that the relationship will end badly, as all his others have, Beau rejects Rufus’ marriage proposal, and in effect pushes him away.

Playwright Sherman, whose best-known play, Bent, was about gay inmates of Nazi concentration camps, obviously knows where Beau’s pessimism comes from, but he evidently does not share it. He presents the optimism of a new generation, embodied not just by Rufus, but by the lover that Rufus eventually finds, Harry (a delightful Christopher Sears), a performance artist younger than Rufus. When Harry, in torn jean, black leather, pierced and tattooed full punk regalia, croons the Gershwin’s The Man I Love, there is something so hilarious, charming and touching about it that you begin to share the play’s optimism, even if Beau never does.

It’s been just 14 years since Massachusetts became the first state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage, six years since New York State, and just two since the Supreme Court legalized it in all 50 states – a decision that, many say, the new administration will try to undermine. Surely, nobody would be surprised by the recent study that concludes that married LGBT adults are happier than single ones. But if there’s been enough time to offer some sociological insight, we may have to wait for our dramatists to fashion from this new reality searing dramas with sophisticated insights.

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Lucille Lortel Nominations 2017 Off-Broadway: Hadestown, Sweeney Todd Lead

Hadestown and Sweeney Todd each led the Lucille Lortel Award nominations this year, with seven apiece, including Outstanding Musical and Outstanding Revival respectively.  Sweet Charity received six; Ride The Cyclone, five. Three of the Off-Broadway shows,  honored  coincidentally with four nominations apiece — Dear Evan Hansen, Indecent and Oslo — have since transferred to Broadway, as has Sweat. The 32nd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway will be presented on Sunday, May 7, 201y at NYU Skirball Center

Outstanding Play

Indecent
Produced by Vineyard Theatre in association with La Jolla Playhouse and Yale Repertory Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel, Created by Paula Vogel & Rebecca Taichman

Oslo
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by J.T. Rogers

Underground Railroad Game
Produced by Ars Nova
Written by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard

Vietgone
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with South Coast Repertory
Written by Qui Nguyen

The Wolves
Produced by The Playwrights Realm in association with New York Stage and Film and Vassar’s Powerhouse Theatre Season
Written by Sarah DeLappe

Outstanding Musical

The Band’s Visit
Produced by Atlantic Theater Company
Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek, Book by Itamar Moses, Based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin

Dear Evan Hansen
Produced by Second Stage Theatre in association with Stacey Mindich Productions
Book by Steven Levenson, Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Hadestown
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by Anaïs Mitchell

Ride the Cyclone
Produced by MCC Theater
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond

The Total Bent
Produced by The Public Theater
Text by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald

Outstanding Revival

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Othello
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
Written by William Shakespeare

Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Edward Albee, María Irene Fornés, and Adrienne Kennedy

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Produced by Rachel Edwards, Jenny Gersten, Seaview Productions, Nate Koch, Fiona Rudin, Barrow Street Theatre, Jean Doumanian, Rebecca Gold, and Tooting Arts Club
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler, Adaptation by Christopher Bond

Sweet Charity
Produced by The New Group in association with Kevin McCollum
Book by Neil Simon, Music by Cy Coleman, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

Outstanding Solo Show

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
Produced by Judd Apatow, Mike Berkowitz, Brian Stern, Mike Lavoie, and Carlee Briglia
Written and Performed by Chris Gethard

Latin History for Morons
Produced by The Public Theater in a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Written and Performed by John Leguizamo

Notes From The Field
Produced by Second Stage Theatre and American Repertory Theater
Created, Written, and Performed by Anna Deavere Smith

The Outer Space
Produced by The Public Theater
Book and Lyrics by Ethan Lipton, Music by Ethan Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy, and Ian M. Riggs
Performed by Ethan Lipton

Sell/Buy/Date
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club
Written and Performed by Sarah Jones

Outstanding Director

Will Davis, Men On Boats
Anne Kauffman, A Life
Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

Outstanding Choreographer

Joshua Bergasse, Sweet Charity
David Dorfman, Indecent
Georgina Lamb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
David Neumann, Hadestown
David Neumann, The Total Bent

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play

Reed Birney, Man From Nebraska
Michael Emerson, Wakey, Wakey
Lucas Hedges, YEN
Joe Morton, Turn Me Loose
David Hyde Pierce, A Life

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play

Johanna Day, Sweat
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Jennifer Kidwell, Underground Railroad Game
Kecia Lewis, Marie and Rosetta
Maryann Plunkett, Women of a Certain Age

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Michael Aronov, Oslo
Charlie Cox, Incognito
Matthew Maher, Othello
Justice Smith, YEN
Paco Tolson, Vietgone

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

Jocelyn Bioh, Everybody
Hannah Cabell, The Moors
Randy Graff, The Babylon Line
Ari Graynor, YEN
Nana Mensah, Man From Nebraska

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical

Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
Shuler Hensley, Sweet Charity
Patrick Page, Hadestown
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical

Sutton Foster, Sweet Charity
Amber Gray, Hadestown
Jo Lampert, Joan of Arc: Into the Fire
Katrina Lenk, The Band’s Visit
Siobhan McCarthy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Nathan Lee Graham, The View UpStairs
Gus Halper, Ride the Cyclone
Joel Perez, Sweet Charity
Ari’el Stachel, The Band’s Visit
Chris Sullivan, Hadestown

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Asmeret Ghebremichael, Sweet Charity
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Betsy Morgan, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Emily Rohm, Ride the Cyclone
Karen Ziemba, Kid Victory

Outstanding Scenic Design

Scott Davis, Ride the Cyclone
Rachel Hauck, Hadestown
Laura Jellinek, A Life
Mimi Lien, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jason Sherwood, The View UpStairs

Outstanding Costume Design

Montana Blanco, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead
Tilly Grimes, Underground Railroad Game
Susan Hilferty, Love, Love, Love
Sarah Laux, The Band’s Visit
Emily Rebholz, Indecent

Outstanding Lighting Design

Mark Barton, Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
Jane Cox, Othello
Greg Hofmann, Ride the Cyclone
Amy Mae, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ben Stanton, YEN

Outstanding Sound Design

Mikhail Fiksel, A Life
Robert Kaplowitz, Hadestown
Stowe Nelson, Small Mouth Sounds
Nevin Steinberg, Wakey, Wakey
Matt Stine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Outstanding Projection Design

Elaine McCarthy, Notes From The Field
Duncan McLean, Privacy
Jared Mezzochi, Vietgone
Peter Nigrini, Dear Evan Hansen
Peter Nigrini, Wakey, Wakey

HONORARY AWARDS
Lifetime Achievement Award
William Ivey Long

Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee
Lynn Nottage

Edith Oliver Service to Off-Broadway Award
Harold Wolpert

NOMINATIONS BY SHOW TITLE

Hadestown 7
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 7
Sweet Charity 6
Ride the Cyclone 5
The Band’s Visit 4
Dear Evan Hansen 4
Indecent 4
A Life 4
Oslo 4
YEN 4
Othello 3
Signature Plays: Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, María Irene
Fornés’ Drowning, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of
a Negro 3
The Total Bent 3
Underground Railroad Game 3
Vietgone 3
Wakey, Wakey 3
The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World
AKA the Negro Book of the Dead 2
Man From Nebraska 2
Notes From The Field 2
The View UpStairs 2
The Wolves 2

The Babylon Line 1
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide 1
Everybody 1
Incognito 1
Joan of Arc: Into the Fire 1
Kid Victory 1
Latin History for Morons 1
Love, Love, Love 1
Marie and Rosetta 1
Men On Boats 1
The Moors 1
The Outer Space 1
Privacy 1
Sell/Buy/Date 1
Small Mouth Sounds 1
Sweat 1
Turn Me Loose 1
Women of a Certain Age 1

Members of the general public are welcome to view the 7:00 PM ceremony. Public tickets are $75.00 and currently on sale via phone at 212.998.4941, online at http://www.nyuskirball.org and in person at the Skirball Center’s Shagan Box Office (556 LaGuardia)

April 2017 NY Theater Openings

The 14 shows opening on Broadway in April — one-third of all the shows for the entire Broadway season — include seven musicals and seven plays. There are two hit plays Off-Broadway transferring to the Great White Way, four revivals, four musicals based on movies. and a sequel to a play written 138 years ago. The stars on stage include Bette Midler, Allison Janney, Kevin Kline, Phillipa Soo and Adam Chaler-Berat, Laurie Metcalf, Christian Borle, Corey Cott and Laura Osnes, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon.

And all that’s just on Broadway. There are almost a dozen more intriguing shows Off-Broadway and Off Off Broadway opening in the month of April.

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: RedOff Broadway: Purple or BlueOff Off Broadway: Green.

To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

APRIL 2

The Play That Goes Wrong

play-that-goes-wrong-logoBroadway Theater: Lyceum
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell
Cast: Matthew Cavendish, Bryony Corrigan, Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill, and Nancy Zamit.
Olivier Award-winning comedy about an amateur university production that goes hopelessly awry

Twitter: @BwayGoesWrong

Buy tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong

APRIL 3

Amelie

amelie-logoBroadway Theater: Walter Kerr
Written by Dan Messé (music), Nathan Tyson (lyrics), Craig Lucas (book)
Director: Pam MacKinnon
Cast: Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat
A musical adaptation of the  2001 film, which starred Audrey Tautou as a shy waitress with a wild imagination.

@AmelieBroadway

Buy tickets to Amelie

APRIL 4

Daniel’s Husband (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)

In this play by Michael McKeever, Daniel longs to be married and Mitchell does not.  A turn of events forces both men to face the consequences of their opposing views, and they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren’t always so fundamental

The Lightning Thief (MCC at Lortel)

A stage adaptation of the best-selling novel by Rick Riordan. The Greek gods are real, and they’re ruining Percy Jackson’s life. As a son of Poseidon, Percy has newly discovered powers he can’t control, monsters on his trail, and he is on an epic quest to find Zeus’s lightning bolt and prevent a war between the gods

APRIL 5

Present Laughter

present-laughter-logoBroadway Theater: St. James

Playwright: Noël Coward
Director: Moritz von Suelpnagel
Cast: Kevin Kline

Revival of the 1940s comedy about the tribulations of a popular matinee idol.

@laughteronbway

Buy tickets to Present Laughter

 

Gently Down The Stream (Public Theater)

In this play by Martin Sherman (Bent, The Boy From Oz), Harvey Fierstein portray Beau, an expatriate pianist living in London, who meets the younger Rufus, an eccentric young lawyer, at the dawn of the Internet dating revolution.

 

APRIL 6

War Paint

war-paint-logo
Theater: Nederlander
Writers: Book by Doug Wright; music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie
Director: Michael Grief; choreographer: Christopher Gattelli
Cast: Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole
Musical based on the rivalry of cosmetics titans Helena Rubenstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole)

 

@warpaintmusical

Buy tickets to War Paint

APRIL 9

The Profane (Playwrights Horizons)

In this play by Zayd Dohrn, Raif Almedin is a first-generation immigrant who prides himself on his modern, enlightened views. But when his daughter falls for the son of a conservative Muslim family in White Plains, he discovers the threshold of his tolerance.

APRIL 12

In and Of Itself (Daryl Roth Theater)

Created and performed by magician Derek DelGaudio: ” a modern allegory that explores new ways of seeing the unseeable, as memories from yesterday are blended with inexplicable events witnessed today and secrets imagined for tomorrow…”

oslo-logo

APRIL 13

Oslo

Broadway Theater: Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center
Playwright: J.T. Rogers
Director: Bartlett Sher
Cast: Jennifer Ehle, Daniel Jenkins, Jefferson Mays and Daniel Oreskes
Transfer of Lincoln Center Theater’s Off-Broadway production of the play about the top-secret, high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords.

My review of “Oslo” Off-Broadway

 

@LCTheater

Buy tickets to Oslo

APRIL 17

 Groundhog Day

groundhog-day-logoBroadway Theater: August Wilson
Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, book by Danny Rubin
Director: Matthew Warchus
Cast: Andy Karl
A musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray film about a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again…and again. Will he ever unlock the secret and break the cycle?

 

@Groundhogdaybwy

Buy tickets to Groundhog Day

APRIL 18

Indecent


Playwright: Paula Vogel
Director: Rebecca Taichman

A behind-the-scenes look at the true story of the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s “God of Vengeance” — “a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel,” in part because of its lesbian lovers.

My review of Indecent Off-Broadway

 

@IndecentBway

Buy tickets to Indecent

Rebel in the Soul (Irish Rep)

Larry Kirwan’s play examines the opposition by the Irish party leader and the Archbishop of Dublin to Dr. Noel Browne, who was elected to the Irish Parliament in 1948 with the aim of ridding Ireland of tuberculosis. “The ensuing crisis  brought down the government and changed Irish life forever.”

APRIL 19

The Little Foxes

Theater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: Lillian Hellman
Director: Daniel Sullivan
Cast: Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The fifth Broadway production of the 1930 drama about a ruthless Southern belle.

Buy tickets to The Little Foxes

 APRIL 20

Hello, Dolly

Hello Dolly logoBroadway Theater: Shubert
Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Michael Stewart
Director: Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlyle
Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce

Tweeter feed: @HelloDollyBway

The fifth Broadway production of the 1964 musical about a matchmaker who sets out to find a match for herself at the turn of the 20th century.

Buy tickets to Hello, Dolly

Pressing Matters (Theatre Row)

Six quirky stories by Jennifer Jasper

APRIL 22

The Assignment (ART/NY)

A play by Camilo Almonacid based on the friendship between a woman who founded a youth violence prevention program after her teenage son was murdered by street violence, and a man who found education and rehabilitation while serving 17 years in prison for manslaughter.

 APRIL 23

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory logoBroadway Theater: Lunt-Fontanne
Written by David Greig (book), Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), Roald Dahl (novel)
Director: Jack O’Brien
Cast: Christian Borle as Willy Wonka
When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

 

Buy tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

APRIL 24

Anastasia

Broadway Theater: Broadhurst
Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klana, Ramin Karimloo, Mary Beth Peil, John Bolton, and Caroline O’Connor
Inspired by the 1997 film about a young woman who may be the last surviving member of the Russian royal family. The score includes songs from the movie, including the Oscar- nominated “Journey to the Past,” plus an entirely new score from the Tony Award-winning team.

@AnastasiaBway

Buy tickets to Anastasia

APRIL 25

Six Degrees of Separation

Broadway Theater: Barrymore
Playwright: John Guare
Director: Trip Cullman
Cast: Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey,   Corey Hawkins
Revival of the 1990 drama about a young con man who is embraced by wealthy New Yorkers after passing himself off as Sidney Poitier’s son.

@SixDegreesBway

Buy tickets to Six Degrees of Separation

APRIL 26

Bandstand

bandstand-logoTheater: Bernard Jacobs
Music by Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
Director/Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuhler
Cast: Laura Osnes and Corey Cott
This “big-band musical” chronicles a mismatched band of WWII veterans who join forces to compete in a radio contest.

@BandstandBway

Buy tickets to Bandstand

 

Her Opponent (Jerry Orbach)

A re-staging of excerpts of the 2016 presidential
debates with gender-reversed casting.

April 27

A Doll’s House, Part 2

a-dolls-house-logoTheater: Golden
First Preview: April 1, 2017
Opening: April 27, 2017
Playwright: Lucas Hnath
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, Condola Rashad.
Sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s play, following up after Nora has left her husband and children.

Buy tickets to A Doll’s House, Part 2

@DollsHousePart2

Latin History for Morons Review: John Leguizamo Gets Serious, Sort Of

For “Latin History for Morons,” John Leguizamo has come up with a sixth solo show that will be in many ways familiar to his fans , with its mix of in-your-face jokes, spot-on mimicry, candid memoir, energetic dance breaks. But it is also a timely cultural and political critique, suggesting what could become a new direction for the talented performer.

“Latin History for Morons,” Leguizamo tells us, was inspired by an incident involving his son, an eighth grader, who was bullied by a racist classmate. Leguizamo tries to support his son: Think of the bully as sandpaper, he says — irritating at the moment, sure, but “you end up polished; he ends up useless.” That doesn’t help. Then he talks to the classmate’s father – who is just as much a bully, boasting of his family’s long line of military heroes, including Andrew Jackson.

So Leguizamo embarks on a mission to learn enough about the history of Latinos to instill pride in his son. The problem – Latinos have been the target of 500 years of bullying.

The family story is both funny and affecting and it gives something of a structure to the 90-minute piece. But it is only one of the three levels of the show. The second is Leguizamo’s relaying nuggets of actual Latino history, which are often engaging, and the third is Leguizamo’s assumption of a kind of Dr. Irwin Corey mock-professorial persona, which is often entertaining, and sometimes undermining. The show begins with Leguizamo entering the stage at the Public Theater in an ill-fitting tweedy jacket and vest like a high school history teacher, carrying a cardboard box of supplies. Greeting the audience applause, his first words are: “Settle down.” The set is a classroom, complete with piles of books, and focused on a chalk board. He writes the title of the show, and he draws a timeline, that begins at 1,000 B.C. – “we have the Mayans” – and ends at Now – “we have Pitbull.” (A Cuban-American rapper, for those who only know about the Mayans.) And that, Leguizamo says, is all that most people know about Latino history.

One need not be a history buff to be fascinated by some of what he fills in for us.

He tells us, for example, about the Repatriation Act of 1930 – the mass deportation between 1929 and 1936 of some 500,000 Mexican immigrants and American citizens of Mexican origin, from the United States to Mexico.

At its best, “Latin History for Morons” lives up to the promise of its title. The success of the “Dummies” and “Idiots” book series, after all, lies in the promise of relaying basic information thoroughly but clearly and with some humor to somebody who doesn’t necessarily have any prior knowledge of the subject. Leguizamo delivers.

As if afraid to bore his audience,  however, Leguizamo sprinkles the history with jokes. Some of them are smart: “Why is all our art called ‘folk art’? And all European art’s called ‘fine art’? And then ‘modern art’ is just our folk art gentrified.” Some of them are dumb: “Conquistadors were like a NBA player at a Kardashian pool party.”

Some are a missed opportunity: “As the great Spanish philosopher Santana said, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” He is of course deliberately confusing Carlos Santana – the Mexican-American guitarist – with George Santayana, the Spanish-born, U.S.-educated philosopher. He has no time to tell us about someone like Santayana, a remarkable scholar. He is busy impersonating one Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban-born woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight for the Confederate side in the Civil War. It would be unrealistic to expect a self-declared “Ghetto Klown” (the title of his last solo show, on Broadway in 2011) to forego the chance to don a big red wig and mince. And it may be that his most devoted fans would be disappointed without these anarchic comic touches, skirting with the stereotypes that I commented on in my very first review of a Leguizamo show, “Mambo Mouth,” his breakthrough piece, back in 1991.

Rather than condemn John Leguizamo for repeating what has worked for him in the past, then, I will remember “Latin History for Morons” as the piece that showed us the extraordinary possibilities when such a brilliant theater artist takes on the world in a new way.

 

Latin History for Morons

Written and performed by John Leguizamo
Directed by Tony Taccone

Scenic Design: Rachel Hauck

Lighting Design: Alexander V. Nichols

Original Music and Sound Design: Bray Poor

Running time: 95 minutes with no intermission

Ticket prices: $65

Running through April 23

 

 

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage Review: Sarah Ruhl’s Spiritual Orgy Play with Marisa Tomei and Lena Hall

In Sarah Ruhl’s new play, “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage,” two middle-aged married couples, long-time friends, find themselves fascinated with a young woman nicknamed Pip ( Lena Hall, Tony winner for Hedwig and the Angry Inch) who lives and loves with two men, in what they call a polyamorous relationship, or a throuple, or a triad. The two couples decide to invite the throuple to a New Year’s Eve party.

“And our lives would change forever,” George (short for Georgia), portrayed by Marisa Tomei, says to the theatergoers sitting politely at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater.

It’s not actually clear that their lives do change forever. But ours certainly don’t.

The New Year’s Eve party ends in an orgy, right before intermission. In Act II, Ruhl’s play takes a series of surreal turns, in an apparent but by no means straightforward attempt to tell us something about love and marriage; and the spirit and the flesh; and the conflict between our animal desires and our human duties, as well as our efforts to reconcile these two natures.

Ruhl is a lovely writer, capable of witty aphorisms, sophisticated dialogue, humorous set-ups, and a theatrical sense of wonder. She also has a tendency towards the twee. All this is on display in “How To Transcend a Happy Marriage,” but this play doesn’t come together as effectively as some of her previous theater that touches on similar territory. She has written about love and marriage in my favorite of her plays, “Stage Kiss “; about spiritual matters, in “The Oldest Boy” ; and, in her only play on Broadway so far, “In The Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” she has written satirically about the conflict between our animal desires and our bourgeois habits.

The strength of “Happy Marriage” is in the characterization of Lena Hall’s Pip, who isn’t just polyamorous. She is a free spirit who slaughters animals when she wants to eat meat, seeing it as the only ethical way to be a meat-eater. She is also taking pole dancing classes. And she is something of a shape-shifter. Hall, best-known for her rock personas, seems the exact right performer for the role.

One problem is that, as reliable and appealing as the rest of the cast is, they are portraying characters that seem deliberately…bland. This even includes Pip’s boyfriends, a mathematician named David (Austin Smith), who talks about Pythagoras, and Freddie (David McElwee), who doesn’t have a job: “It’s kind of a philosophy. I think, I walk. I try not to leave any imprint. Or footprint…I went to Harvard.”

Pip’s liveliness contrasts with the two couples’ banal bourgeois existence. Pip makes a living as a temp at a legal aid office; this is where she met Jane (Robin Weigert ), who works there as a litigator. Her husband Michael (Brian Hutchison) writes jingles. I don’t even remember what the other couple do for a living, except that Marissa Tomei’s George is assigned narrator duties and also gets long ruminative monologues. These sound as if they might be perceptive, but they existed in a spiritual realm somewhere above my head.

Here is what might be a typical exchange during the New Year’s Eve Party, an example of the ways in which “How to Transcend A Happy Marriage” manages to be simultaneously entertaining and tedious:

Pip: The thing about being bisexual that’s tedious is you constantly have to announce yourself. It’s like, if you decide to be a vegetarian, you don’t go around reminding people, well I’m technically an omnivore. You know?

Paul:So if you’re a monogamous bisexual, does that make you a liar all the time?

David: I sort of think so. But monogamy is a construct that will seem passé in the next century. So will race. The whole world will be like Brazil.

George: I love Brazil.

Michael: Pistachios?

Freddie: Yes, please. I love pistachios at a party. Gives you something to do with your hands. I never know what to do with my hands while I make small talk.

All this is before the fanciful twists of the second act, which I shouldn’t describe, although it wouldn’t matter much if I did. I’ll only say they take place in a forest, a jail cell, and in Michael and Jane’s home, and involve woodland creatures, and a teenage daughter, and snow, and lots of hugging.

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage
Mitzi Newhouse Theater
Written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. Set design by David Zinn, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Matt Hubbs
Cast: Lena Hall as Pip, Brian Hutchison as Michael, David McElwee as Freddie, Omar Metwally as Paul, Naian Gonzalez Norvind as Jenna, Austin Smith as David, Marisa Tomei as George, Robin Weigert as Jane
Running time: two hours and 15 minutes, including an intermission
Tickets: $87
Through May 7, 2017

 

The Outer Space Review: Ethan Lipton’s Sci Fi Shaggy Dog Midlife Crisis Musical

At first glance, singing storyteller Ethan Lipton and his three-member band – the creators and entire cast of “The Outer Space” – look like middle-aged men who never outgrew their childhood obsessions with space travel and rock ‘n’ roll. They wear those blue astronaut jumpsuits, and drink out of plastic spaceship sippy cups, and sing and play tunes in front of the walls at Joes Pub newly festooned with stars that glow purple if you shine a black light at them – precisely the decorations you’d expect in the bedroom of a nine-year-old boy.
This is how it seems on second glance, too, as Lipton narrates the funny, pointed, and strange story of the unnamed married couple who decide they’ve had it with Earth; they buy an old jalopy of a rocket ship and live in a space colony that orbits the planet Mercury, where 3,100 people live, work and shop in some 450 vessels, including a “one-dollar ship.”
Half science fiction, half Moth-like shaggy dog tale involving a midlife crisis, half social satire, half a revue of unrelated songs in a mix of genres, “The Outer Space” doesn’t quite add up to a musical. But it does count as an almost unique entertainment – “almost,” because it’s a sequel of sorts to “No Place To Go,” Lipton and company’s 2012 show, also at the Public. In that one, the man’s job was moving to Mars, and he had to decide whether to move along with it or stay in New York. In “The Outer Space,” that same man moves reluctantly to Mercury with his wife, who is the one who needed to get away from Earth.
It would be foolhardy to try to summarize the story in the 90-minute show, not because there isn’t one – although there isn’t one – but because “The Outer Space” makes something of an art form out of off-the-wall and out-of-left-field.

That’s true about the lyrics – for example, in “She Does Well in Space,” Lipton describes the wife as:
“Friend to every varmint on the block
Chickens, broccoli, they all join her flock.”

Or in the song, A to Z:
Like apples and aardvarks
Birthdays and bingo
(etc through the whole alphabet)
it’s hard to know how we could walk and talk more differently.”

That’s true about his analogies too. Lipton says the husband

“….had to concede,
our cost of living keeps going up like a rocket
while our wages putter along like a school bus
and our savings sit there like a turtle until some major catastrophe—
like a trip to the grocery store— drives them back into the toilet.”

It’s true about his descriptions of the other characters in the space colony, such as “Mika, who works in cosmology, and her husband Donald, who is part bicycle.”

Vito Dieterle, on sax

In keeping with this approach, “The Outer Space” is full of non-sequiturs and digressions. But these are funny non-sequiturs and digressions full of a kind of folksy urban social commentary, and they are set to music that is variously folk, down home blues, funk, bluegrass, Latin-flavored jazz, both soft pop and hard rock, and a final lovely ballad that begins:

Have you ever had the dream
of going somewhere beautiful
Somewhere far away and magical
at the end of all that’s natural

In short, “The Outer Space,” helps the audience, just like that space-traveling couple, get away from it all, albeit just for 80 minutes or so. And by “it all,” Lipton explains, he means:
“noise, violence, oppression, the grind,
rudeness, tourism, traffic, trash,
smelly buses, corporate greed, cultural homogenization, economic marginalization, pollution, overcrowded schools, overpriced rents, overhyped pastries, and busker rock” – as well as (I expect a recent update) the “Dark Lord” that “took over the universe.”

The Outer Space
Joe’s Pub at the Public
Book and Lyrics by Ethan Lipton 
Music composed and performed by Ethan Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy & Ian Riggs
Directed by Leigh Silverman

Scenic and Costume Design: David Zinn
Lighting Design: Ben Stanton
Sound Design: Nicholas Pope
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Tickets: $40
The Outer Space is scheduled to run through April 9, 2017

All the Fine Boys Review: Abigail Breslin in (Half A) Horror Play of Lost Virginity

Isabelle Fuhrman and Abigail Breslin

Isabelle Fuhrman and Abigail Breslin

Jenny and Emily are both 14 years old, new friends in a small-town suburb in South Carolina in the 1980s; they both love horror movies; they both want to lose their virginity. In “All the Fine Boys, their differing paths after their sole scene together function as a right way and a wrong way to have a crush. But their separate scenes also demonstrate the right way and wrong way to put together a play.

Emily (Isabelle Fuhrman) has a crush on Adam (Alex Wolff.) As she explains to Jenny: “He’s smart. He’s tall. He’s old, he’s like an adult.”

“He’s 17,” Jenny says.

“He glows,” Emily replies.

By contrast, Jenny (Abigail Breslin) gets together with Joe (Joe Tippett), a man who is twice her age and, we eventually learn, is both a husband and a father.

If “All The Fine Boys,” written and directed by Erica Schmidt, had just been the scenes between Emily and Adam, the play would have been a sweet, funny, awkward, well-observed coming-of-age tale. Adam, as portrayed by Wolff, is hilariously full of himself, but he also treats Emily with respect, and we see the two of them mature just in the short time frame of the play.

But the scenes between Jenny and Joe wind up as a combination Lifetime movie cautionary tale, and campy Grand Guignol horror movie, which features Abigail Breslin (Oscar nominee at age 10 for Little Miss Sunshine) being deflowered on a couch before our eyes while eating a slice of pizza – and it gets worse from there, escalating to violence involving a birthday cake.

Even Amy Rubin’s set seems to offer a commentary on the play’s unfortunate split personality. In the scenes between Emily and Adam, the door opens onto a hallway. In the scenes between Jenny and Joe, the same door opens onto a bathroom.

 

 

 

All The Fine Boys
New Group at Signature
Written and directed by Erica Schmidt
Set design by Amy Rubin, costume design by Tom Broecker, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Bart Fasbender
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Isabelle Fuhrman, Joe Tippett and Alex Wolff
Running time: 100 minutes
Tickets: $85
“All The Fine Boys” is scheduled to run through March 26, 2017

 

If I Forget Review: Jewish Family Argues About Identity and Dad

In “If I Forget,” a well-acted, often funny and always engaging Jewish family drama by Steven Levenson (the book-writer for Dear Evan Hansen) we travel back to an era that no longer exists except in memory, although it is a mere 15 years ago. Cell phones are an oversized novelty in 2000 and 2001, when the play takes place, and the Fischer family talks of hanging chads and Students for Nader and the second Intifada. Yet the concerns of Levenson’s play feel both up-to-the-minute and age-old, as Michael (Jeremy Shamos) and his two sisters Holly (Kate Walsh, from Private Practice) and Sharon (Maria Dizzia) argue politics and religion and identity.


They also argue about what to do about Dad. That is more or less the reason they have reunited in their childhood home in Washington D.C. (a substantial two-tiered set by Derek McLane), where their father (Larry Bryggman) still lives. In failing health, he has retired from the clothing store he inherited from his father and ran his entire life, now renting it out to a Latino family that has turned it into a dollar store.
The central plot, which doesn’t kick in until after the intermission, revolves around how to take care of Dad – and what to do about the store. Sharon, who works as a kindergarten teacher and takes on the bulk of the caretaking, wants to keep renting the store at below-market rate to the Latino family. Holly, the dilettantish wife of a lawyer Howard (Gary Wilmes), wants to take it over to launch an interior decorating business she plans to call Spaces and Places. Michael, a Jewish Studies professor with a precarious career and a daughter in need of expensive mental health care, wants to sell it. As individual and family secrets are revealed, we realize that each character has an ulterior motive for the positions they are taking.
All of this unfolds expertly, each character maintaining their appeal and our interest, even those on the periphery: Seth Steinberg as Joey, Holly and Howard’s sullen teenage son, is hilariously spot-on, and the way his mother Holly bickers and fusses with him is priceless. But this conventional drama also ties into the larger issues the playwright skillfully weaves in. Michael has written a book entitled “Forgetting the Holocaust,” whose controversial thesis is that the memory of the Holocaust is being used to force blind support of Israeli policy. Shamos delivers long passionate and provocative passages:
“A hundred years ago, Jews were part of every single radical, secular political movement in Europe. The Zionists? They hated religion. They hated the rabbis more than the communists did. The point was to change this world. To make a world where Jews wouldn’t even exist – there would just be one single international human brotherhood. And then at a certain point, we just, we gave up. We gave up on politics and social justice, because…I don’t know why…..And now you look around and everybody on the Upper West Side is reading books on Kabbalah and kosher sex, whatever the hell that is, and it’s just, what happened to the last hundred years? ”
The rest of the family is aghast at his views.
“You know, a lot of Democrats, a lot of liberals, people like you, have become frankly very anti-Semitic. Especially about Israel,” Sharon says to him.
If it’s a little hard to buy some of the opinions the playwright gives to a Jewish Studies professor (such as his contempt for Hebrew) there are certainly plenty of Jewish families who continue to have these debates.

If I Forget
Laura Pels Theatre

Written by Steven Levenson
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
Set design by Derek McLane, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design and music composed by Dan Moses Schreier
Cast: Larry Bryggman, Maria Dizzia, Tasha Lawrence, Jeremy Shamos, Seth Michael Steinberg, Kate Walsh and Gary Wilmes
Running time: two hours and 40 minutes, including one intermission
Tickets: $89

IF We Forget runs through April 30, 2017

Wakey, Wakey Review: Dying, Via Eno and Emerson

Wakey Wakey

“Over a hundred thousand people died today,” the character played by Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest) tells us in “Wakey, Wakey,” the latest ethereal, esoteric play by Will Eno, who also directs. It’s one of several fascinating facts that the character, named only Guy, delivers from his wheelchair on the stage of the Signature Theater, often reading from note cards:

“You will produce two swimming pools’ worth of saliva in your life…Use it wisely.”

“Hearing certain words can create the realities behind those words, in the hearer, in the hearer’s body. Joy, Light …”

“They say practicing gratitude can physically change the shape of the brain, in a good way.”

Is any of this true? And why is Guy telling us this?

Afterward, I did some Googling, and sure enough:“How Expressing Gratitude Might Change Your Brain.”

I doubt my brain is going to be changed very much by “Wakey, Wakey,” but I did like it better than anything else I’ve seen by Eno, whose comic, cosmic, cryptic approach to playwriting has consistently charmed other people. Too often, I’ve found his impish sensibility grating. “The Realistic Joneses,” his only play to make it to Broadway so far, was well-acted by a stellar cast, but for me it added up to a whole that was less than the sum of its parts.

With gentle humor and a lack of fussiness, Michael Emerson manages to woo us through the deliberate vagueness, starts-and-stops, meta interruptions, of his monologue, even before we are completely certain why Guy is talking to us. There are hints from the get-go that he’s presiding over his own wake – “Wakey, Wakey,” get it? — or perhaps that he’s rehearsing for his wake:
“We’re here to say good-bye, of course– there’s always someone or something to say good-bye to, and it’s important to honor the people whose shoulders we stood upon and fell asleep against. So, yes, we’re here to say good-bye and maybe hopefully also get better at saying hello.”
It becomes irrefutably clear that Guy is dying only when Lisa (January LaVoy) arrives and her casual ministrations establish her as his caretaker (perhaps his hospice nurse.)
What fills most of the 75-minute play is what feels like Guy’s effort to fill the time, or make the most of the time, with word games, thought experiments, those facts and thoughts from the note cards. He also clicks on a remote, and we are treated
to entertaining, occasionally amusing video projections – such as animals apparently laughing.
Much of what Eno’s script is trying to induce about the celebration and uncertainty of life and death has been done better and with more clarity elsewhere, in such plays as “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Wit”…and the works of Eno’s hero, Samuel Beckett. But Eno the playwright is well served in “Wakey Wakey” by Eno the director, and by Emerson, LaVoy, and the show’s designers — Christine Jones’s simple set, including an unmoored door; David Lander’s varied lighting; Nevin Steinberg’s elaborate sound; Peter Nigrini’s fast-paced, celebratory, almost hallucinatory projections.) This is especially true at the end, or after the end — the wake. That the Signature serves up an elaborate wake, complete with balloons and bubbles, but also coffee cake and little gifts,probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it does. It’s a weird surprise, yes, but it’s also an oddly touching one, and one I appreciated. (So, ok, maybe my brain will change after all.)

Wakey, Wakey
Signature Theater
Written and directed by Will Eno
Set deisgn by Christine Jones, lighting by David Lander, sound by Nevin Steinberg, projections by Peter Nigrini
Cast Michael Emerson and January LaVoy

Running time: about 75 minutes with no intermission

Tickets: $30
Wakey, Wakey is scheduled to run through April 2.

Sweeney Todd: Review, Pics, Pie Recipe

pie-sign

Tooting Arts Club’s exceptionally entertaining production of Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s glorious murderous musical, began in 2014 in Harrington’s, one of London’s oldest working pie shops. An impressively detailed replica of Harrington’s has now set up shop Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater, including the pies…

The Barrow Street Theater, transformed into a pie shop. Audience members eating their pie -- and cast members hanging out -- before Sweeney Todd begins.

The Barrow Street Theater, transformed into a pie shop. Audience members eating their pie — and cast members hanging out — before Sweeney Todd begins.

barrow-street-theater-2

The eight-member cast frequently performs atop the tables inches from the audience, or sits alongside us on the benches…Jeremy Secomd as Sweeney Todd and Siobhan McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett are two of the four holdovers from the London production, and their simultaneously chilling and hilarious performances are reason enough to make this a must-see show.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any of the photographs by Joan Marcus to see them enlarged.

 

Truffle Chicken Pot Pie From ‘Sweeney Todd’
Two methods

pie-at-barrow-street-theater

First Method
Pie crust

3 cups flour

2 tsp salt

10 oz butter

3 oz cold water

Method: Cut butter into small pea-size pieces and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour and salt in standing electric mixer and mix on slow speed with paddle attachment. Add the butter slowly, taking care that is does not jump out of the bowl. Mix loosely and then add cold water down the side of the bowl with mixer on slow, until the dough comes together. Remove from bowl and work into a ball with floured hands, then push down to a disk, wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll out on a floured surface to ¼-inch thickness and then place in a pie dish, crimping the edges. Cut away excess and add to remaining pie dough, re-roll to a ¼-inch thickness into a circle for the top.

Filling

2 chicken legs and thighs, deboned

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small dice

1 celery, chopped into small dice

1 vidalia onion, chopped into small dice

12 button mushrooms, sliced thin, or chanterelles if available

Method: Bring 3 quarts water to a boil and add chopped vegetables, except the mushrooms, to the water and cook lightly, about 3 minutes. Then add the chicken meat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove chicken, cool and chop into half-inch dice. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and skim the fat off the top of the liquid. Boil the cooking liquid for 30 minutes to reduce the stock and when it is down to one quart of liquid, add 2 tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in cold water. Stir continuously with a whisk, bringing it back to the boil until the liquid thickens.

Strain and cool. Mix together the vegetables, chicken and mushrooms and moisten with the reduced chicken stock until it is like a thick ragout.

Prepare the pie: Prebake the bottom pie shell lined with aluminum foil at 350F for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and fill with the chicken vegetable mixture. Prepare an egg wash — two eggs and pinch salt — then brush the edges and cover with the dough circle, pressing firmly to seal the edge. Poke the surface several times with a fork to make air vents and then paint with egg wash. Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Serve warm.

Second Method

Buy the pie at Barrow Street Theatre for the pre-show meal.