When I heard this beast of a show was transferred from London, I knew I’d make time to see it. I also knew it’d take command of around 7 hours of my life. Part 1 and Part 2 clocked in at three hours and thirty minutes EACH. The first part I saw on a Monday night – great idea, not. I didn’t make that mistake. I saw Part 2 on a weekend a couple of months later.

The Inheritance examined relationships between gay men in the generation since the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and this new generation questions what they owe to the generation that came before and who paved the way for them.

The Inheritance was trying to be this generations’ Angels in America and while it was well-written, by Matthew Lopez, in my opinion, it just didn’t need to be 7 hours long. Three and a half hours would have sufficed.

Much of the first act is a bare stage in the present day with a large number of cast members trying to help the “writer” of the story figure out what he’s writing. A lot of that could’ve been cut.

I don’t really remember anyone’s performance besides John Benjamin Hickey’s but he was fantastic. Did The Inheritance need to be 7 hours long? No. Do I regret the time I spent watching it? Also, no.

Review: Marisa Tomei in The Rose Tattoo

I was familiar with Marisa Tomei from the Marvel movies and The Big Short, but that was about it. I’ve never seen My Cousin Vinny and I don’t feel any shame about it either. However, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t excited to see what she could do on stage in Roundabout’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo.

I’d admittedly never read this classic Williams’ play and I didn’t know anything about it.

The play, and this production of it, was really dark and depressing. When the lights went down at the end of the second act, I felt as though a weighted blanket had been lifted off me and I could breathe again. I think that was part of director Trip Cullman’s plan but it was a lot to take in.

The plot is best summarized from the show’s Wikipedia page, “an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has withdrawn from the world after her husband’s death and expects her daughter to do the same.” Yeah, it’s depressing.

I thought Tomei was great – she was a total nutcase and I believed every second of it. Another notable cast member was Constance Shulman, who you’d recognize from Orange is the New Black. She played basically the same character on stage as she does onscreen, but that’s not to say she wasn’t wonderful to watch.

The Rose Tattoo was everything I expected. Tennessee Williams isn’t exactly known for his comedies after all.

Magic on Broadway: Derren Brown’s The Secret

I’ve seen a couple of these magic shows on Broadway before (The Illusionists’, for example) and they’re always super entertaining but they’re just not something that I get really excited to see. I had also never heard of Derren Brown. I learned though, upon arrival to the Cort Theatre, that he’s so popular in England that it was actually cheaper for some people to fly across the pond to New York City and see him here than it would be for them to buy tickets to see him in London. Wow.

I don’t remember specifics about the tricks and illusions he performed that day – nor would it be fair of me to reveal what they were if I did – but I was super impressed by the end of the show. I know it’s not real and that there’s a way to read people that you can learn (and I hear he talks about it in one of his books), but still: it’s super impressive to see in person. I understood after why people were flocking all the way from London to see him on Broadway!

Harold Pinter’s Betrayal on Broadway

I’m doing this thing where I go back in time during the 2019-2020 Broadway season and write about all the shows I saw that I didn’t previously have a chance to write about. I hope you’ll indulge me! The first play I wanted to write about was Betrayal by Harold Pinter.

The only thing I knew about this play before I saw it was that it was the story of a marriage starting with the day they’re getting divorced ) and that it had been a hit in London. I was also excited to see Tom Hiddleston. I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki in the Marvel movies (I even wanted to name one of my cats after the character but that never worked out) and I was curious to see whether or not he could act onstage, too!

The three-person cast was rounded out by Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox (I’ve only watched a couple of episodes and I was not a fan, to be honest) and British actress Zawe Ashton. It’s somewhat exhausting to watch a marriage go from hitting rock bottom to being great, just because you know how it turns out.

Harold Pinter isn’t my favorite, and this definitely wasn’t my favorite play of his. Hiddleston was great though. He can definitely hold his own onstage – he was convincing every step of the way. Ashton and Cox also did a good job, but I thought Hiddleston shined the most.

Was this a total waste of 90 minutes? Not at all. It was only 90 minutes and you could definitely find worse ways to spend your Sunday afternoon than watching a Pinter play with a fine cast on Broadway.

Moulin Rouge on Broadway vs. The Real Thing in Paris

I was a huge fan of Moulin Rouge, the film, in high school. I had a friend in the theatre department who was absolutely obsessed with it so we watched it all the time. The film’s jukebox score was the first time I’d ever heard a lot of those famous songs. (What can I say, I was raised on show tunes and Spice Girls.) And Ewan McGregor? Swoon!

It’s safe to say that when I was given the opportunity to see a performance at the ACTUAL Moulin Rouge in Paris in 2008 that I was definitely going to take advantage. I think our tickets cost $50 (maybe $75?), but the tickets also came with a meal. I remember wishing to hear the songs I knew so well from the movie but the actual show is full of lesser-known music (or at least I didn’t know it, which isn’t saying much, I know). I remember the food being tasty and I marveled at the can-can dancers and topless burlesque dancers, the jugglers, and the singers. There were a lot of pasties as one would imagine.

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It was a unique experience and one that I will never forget. A magnet from the gift shop hangs on my refrigerator and I also picked up one of the programs, too, since photos were strictly banned.

Fast forward about 10 years to summer 2018 and ART in Boston was mounting a new stage production of Moulin Rouge. This was long overdue if you ask me. Still: I was excited.

For some reason, Kristen and I didn’t think to see it while we were in Boston to see Jagged Little Pill, but we knew it’d come to Broadway. The stills of the set design were breathtaking. It was the set from The Great Comet of 1812, but glitzier and much, much redder. It was stunning.

Tickets had been impossible to buy when they transferred the production to Broadway so I was stunned when Nick surprised me on Christmas with tickets to a performance in late February to celebrate our one-year anniversary. I was SO excited. (And it was a good thing he went for before I traveled to Portugal because afterward, we wouldn’t have been able to go!)

Fast forward some more to the night of February 22nd. We grabbed Thai food on 9th Avenue and then we excited hurried over to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

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The Al Hirschfeld Theatre actually felt like the perfect spot for this slightly more risque and unconventional show. The Moulin Rouge is quite close to the extremely seedy Montmartre District in Paris, so to have chosen a theatre for this production that’s west of 8th Avenue and literally next to a strip club feels insanely perfect.

As soon as you walk into the theatre you are transported into the Moulin Rouge that you know from the movie. Everything is draped in red velvet with red lights and everything is shimmering.

I was slightly disappointed to see that Karen Olivo, who plays Satine, was out that night, but I think my happiness from the knowledge that Danny Burstein and Aaron Tveit were on as Zidler and Christian, respectively, more than made up for it. We made our way to our seats in the mezzanine and then the lights went down.

The Show:

The Book: The plot is the same as the movie. There are minor changes in the second act, but the plot is the same: Satine falls in love with Christian who she believes in the Duke, and then she has to pretend she’s in love with the Duke, too, so they can get their show mounted. Easy enough, right?

The Music: Wow, wow, wow! There are all of the songs that you love from the movie in this score, but also there are snippets from probably 200 other popular songs scattered throughout. There’s a reason they don’t have a song list in the Playbill. They want the audience to be surprised and it’s for the benefit of both the audience and the creative team that we are surprised! If you want to ruin the surprise, you can check out the song list here (but I would advise against it).

The Set: As previously, the set would’ve been an easy and obvious pick for Best Set had the Tony Awards not been canceled this year. It is absolutely gorgeous. If you have an extra thousand dollars, you can even sit on stage (I’m assuming that’s the price they’re being resold for on Ticketmaster!) and really be part of the action. (Yes, please!) I can’t properly describe the set, so I’ll just show you a photo:

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See? Gorgeous.

The Cast: In a time when productions are aiming to be as barebones as possible, this 30-person cast feeling HUGE. But it works. The stage has to look busy for the show to work because the stage is never bare and empty at the actual Moulin Rouge, or in the movie. Even the audience members in the mezzanine (hello!) feel like we’re all huddled together witnessing a rare event. It is a rare event because on Broadway every show is different. Hence the magic of theatre.

Ashley Loren was covering the role of Satine for Karen Olivio and she killed it! She sang the hell out of Katy Perry’s “Firework” and every other song she was given. She is literally in every seen in the show and she kept her energy high and her vocals on point throughout.

Aron Tveit was sensational at Christian. I’ve seen him in Next To Normal, Wicked, and Catch Me If You Can, all of which he was excellent in. However, as Christian, he was a sparkling diamond. His vocals were so vibrant and powerful that I wanted to scream for joy. I honestly didn’t know he could sing like that. My only criticism is that sometimes I didn’t believe that Christian and Satine were in love but I would probably blame that on him not having as much experience with Loren since she was an understudy. And I know what you’re thinking: How could that not ruin the show?! I don’t know. It just didn’t.

And last but certainly not least there was Danny Burstein as the MC of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler. He had been out for a few weeks prior for medical reasons so I was elated when I found out that he’d be back just a few short weeks before we arrived to see the show. I have a long history with Mr. Burstein on Broadway. I’ve seen him in My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, The Snow Geese, Follies, Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, South Pacific, and The Drowsy Chaperone. It is an understatement when I say that he is always spectacular in whatever show he is cast and his turn as Zidler in Moulin Rouge was no different. He never broke character while on stage or interacting with the audience, and his comedic timing and vocals were stellar. I. love. Danny. Burstein. You will, too.

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Moulin Rouge is nearly three hours long but it never feels that way. It never drags and it’s pacing is damn near perfect. I am so, so grateful that I was able to see this gem of a show on Broadway before Broadway shut down for who knows how long.

Once Broadway is open again, I would encourage you to save some money and do that same. (Or you can enter the lottery here when they’ve re-opened.)

Is it like the real thing in Paris? I’d say it’s even better.

The Al Hirschfeld Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 302 West 45th Street in midtown Manhattan.

Review: The Sound Inside (Roundabout)

Two weeks I finally, finally, finally got around to seeing The Sound Inside at Studio 54.

Adam Rapp has been one of my favorite playwrights – if not my absolute favorite – since 2006 when I saw his play Red Light Winter at the Barrow Street Theatre. I’m sure I’ve talked about this all before on here in prior reviews of shows of his but I just love his writing. I can almost never pinpoint what he’s trying to say but I love how he writes and how his characters talk. I really grasped onto one of the themes of Red Light Winter (although I’d yet to ever travel to Amsterdam, and I wasn’t a prostitute, etc.) and I was a fan ever since.

Yes, if you must know, I knew who Adam Rapp was because I was a fan of his brother initially. But after Red Light Winter, I was a fan of his solely for his writing talents.

Anyways, Rapp had been quoted a few times saying that producers had approached him to mount his pieces on Broadway but he’d always refused their offers because his audience was downtown. Totally valid, and probably true given the content of some of (most of) his stuff.

But when it was announced that a play he wrote would be produced by Roundabout Theatre Company and be on Broadway at Studio 54, I was giddy. AND it was starring Mary Louise Parker? Things just kept getting better. Well, I finally saw it after it opened and I made sure not to read anything about the show. I wanted to go in with a fresh mind.

I sat down in my seat in the front mezzanine and waited for the lights to go down.

It began with a monologue from Mary Louise Parker, who played an accomplished 53-year-old Yale professor named Bella Baird. It was sardonic, dry, and comedic. Everything that I love about Adam Rapp’s writing. You could tell she was over her job.

After her monologue, she is soon visited by a fellow misfit student from one of her classes, Christopher Dunn (the lovely and captivating Will Hochman), who doesn’t use email and refuses to make an appointment like everyone else. He begins to share his novel with Bella and they grow closer and closer over the next 80 or so minutes. You never know where their relationship is going to go and I won’t spoil it here. Towards the end of the play, Bella enlists Christopher to help her with the ultimate task after she learns she has advanced-stage cancer (which, spoiler alert, he doesn’t).

Spoiler: A friend told me a theory she’d heard from another friend that Christopher actually doesn’t exist and a multitude of reasons why. I tweeted this theory and Rapp liked it, but he didn’t confirm or deny, so that was helpful.

I was on the edge of my seat most of the play, trying to guess what would happen, but I wasn’t really sure why. I liked both of the characters, a lot, but it’s not like I was dying for them to get together.

This isn’t for everyone, sure, but I really liked it and I’m happy that Roundabout didn’t water Rapp down for Broadway audiences. As per usual, Adam Rapp produced a masterclass in foreboding drama and I loved every second of it.

Review: The Underlying Chris (Second Stage)

I guess last week was the week to see vague plays because last Sunday evening, I celebrated the 3-day weekend by seeing The Underlying Chris with my partner. Written by Will Eno, the Pulitzer-Prize nominated playwright who also wrote The Realistic Joneses, which was on Broadway back in 2014 (and that I sadly did not see). However, I have seen his play Thom Pain twice, in two different productions, so I sort of knew what I was getting into. (But not really.)

I read in reviews of The Realistic Joneses was a series of small scenes and I think that must be a theme in Eno’s work because that was also the structure of The Underlying Chris. On Second Stage’s website, it describes the playas “a life-affirming and high-spirited look at how a person comes into their identity, and how sometimes it’s life’s tiniest moments that most profoundly change our lives. In these divided times, The Underlying Chris serves as a celebration of our differences, our individuality, and the many mysterious, difficult, and beautiful things we share simply by being alive.”

I believe this may come across in the final scene, which is a funeral for someone named Chris, but a better description of this play would’ve been: “A play about many Chris’ in many different stages throughout one’s life and each scene is connected to the previous scene in a subtle or not-so-subtle way.

An example of these unrelated scene connections is in the first scene, Chris is a newly born baby boy. The scene ends with his mother getting a call, but we never find out the nature of that call (though we do hear sirens so we’re led to believe that something’s happened). In the next scene, Chris is a young girl in a doctor’s office and she tells the doctor that her father died in a car accident when she was a baby.

This happened for scene after scene after scene culminating in the funeral of a person named Chris.

I’m sure there was a big point somewhere that I completely missed but I completely didn’t see any celebrating of our diversity here.

I thought the best performances came from Howard Overshown and Isabella Russo, though the ensemble cast, each playing multiple roles, were equally strong.

It was an entertaining night, sure! But if you want something clear and focused with an easy to spot theme, this won’t be it. But I applaud Second Stage for giving space to a play like this.

Did you see it? What did you think?

If you want to find out more about The Underlying Chris, click here!