June 22, 2015 Leave a comment
“The purpose of art is to wake us up,” playwright Paula Vogel said over the weekend, and that’s true even during the summer.
Week in New York Theater Reviews
Chris’s qualms more or less drive the (in)action of “The Qualms,” which has now opened at Playwrights Horizons…Chris (Jeremy Shamos) and his wife Kristy (Sarah Goldberg) are the only newcomers among the eight middle class, mostly middle aged couples who have gathered for some extramarital recreation. If this sounds like a sex comedy from the 1960’s, there are several clues that this is supposed to be taking place now, during the 21st century – the characters use cell phones, and they do little more than talk.
In Rajiv Joseph’s new two-character play, which a hyperbolic Hollywood agent might describe as Abbott and Costello Meets Game of Thrones, we learn that the emperor who had commissioned the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his queen, ordered that all 20,000 skilled artisans who had a hand in building it have their hands chopped off. He did this so that nothing as beautiful could ever be built again.
This ghoulish tidbit is untrue. Its fabrication disturbs me, much more so than if, say, John Adams was said to order the same fate for the builders of the White House , because at least I would know this to be fable, not history. How many audience members at the Atlantic Theater are as well-versed in the history of India?
Put the Public Theater’s current Tempest, directed by Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal), next to such physically rigorous and visually inventive productions – or just compare it to the last time this play was presented at the Delacorte, 20 years ago, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Patrick Stewart — and it is hard to avoid a tinge of disappointment. This Tempest seems a tad tepid. The scenic design is largely uninspired, especially the static backdrop of ocean waves. The stagecraft is so-so. Even the shipwreck Prospero causes as the play begins, though full of very loud simulated thunder and bright lights flashing right in our eyes, is less striking or transporting than annoying.
The performances are not often more than competent. As Prospero, Sam Waterston, who has given many a compelling performance in his half century as both a popular and classical actor, mostly comes off here as too low-key and mannered; it was rare when I could forget he was Sam Waterston, despite the bushy white beard….Still, The Tempest at the Delacorte is worth seeing…
Is it the deadening office atmosphere, or is it their own ambition, that have warped most of the cubicle workers who have artistic aspirations in “Gloria,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ shocking drama at the Vineyard Theater?
The playwright of Neighbors, Appropriate and An Octoroon, prompts some disturbing questions as he takes us into new territory, with a play that is set during its first act in the midtown corporate offices of an unnamed national magazine. It doesn’t take long for us to learn that almost all the employees are miserable – which is to say, either unhappy, or of wretched character, or both.
The Week in New York Theater News
The Kilroys 2015 list of “the 53 most recommended new plays by female and trans authors.” It includes one of my favorites, To The Bone, by Lisa Ramirez.
Jonathan Groff, who took over for Brian d’Arcy James as King George in the Off-Broadway production of Hamilton, will now play the king on Broadway as well. Hamilton Broadway cast is largely intact from The Public Theater.
AR Gurney’s Sylvia, with Annaleigh Ashford as dog that breaks up a marriage, opens at Broadway’s Cort Theater on October 15
After Ken Watanabe, the king of The King and I will be:
Jose Llana (from Here Is Love) July 14-Sept 27
HoonLee Sept 29 –
Bright Star, a new musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, set in the American South in the 1920s, will be presented at the Kennedy Center in December. Afterwards, it’s aiming for Broadway.
Georgia Engel (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Christopher Abbott (Girls), Hong Chau (Treme) and Lois Smith (East of Eden, Trip to Bountiful, etc), have been cast in John, Annie Baker’s new play at the Signature Theater July 22-Aug 30
John takes place week after Thanksgiving in a Gettysburg, Pa. bed and breakfast. “Expected running time”: 3 hours 30 minutes.
Richard Nelson (Apple Plays) is back at the Public Theater this season with a three-play cycle, “The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family.” The Gabriels are neighbors of the Apples in Rhinebeck, New York.
Bock and Harnick’s The Rothschild’s, rewritten and retitled Rothschild & Sons, starring Robert Cuccioli, is scheduled for the York Theatre Oct 6-Nov 1
Returning to Broadway: The Illusionists (with new magicians) Nov 19 – Jan 3 2016
Abby Mueller will play Carole King in national tour of Beautiful. Her sister Jessie originated the role on Broadway.
Megan Hilty in Irving Berlin’s 1946 musical, Annie Get Your Gun, One-night-only concert City Center Oct 27
Past theater profiles in The New Yorker: Albee, Mamet, Stoppard, Annie Baker, Wendy Wasserstein, Ntozake Shange, etc.
Fans have been asking Lin-Manuel Miranda, author and star of Hamilton, for his autograph — on the ten-dollar bill. Here’s how he accommodates them: