Vietgone closes today at MTC, but, nevertheless, I thought it was important to write about it. It is about the Vietnam War, yes, but it is also an insanely timely moment in American history to be remembering how the Vietnamese refugees who were relocated to America were treated.

First, let me address the pink elephant in the room, the rapping. I wish all of the rapping had been turned into monologues, but it’s there and it’s reminiscent of Hamilton and there’s nothing that Vietgone or we, the people who saw Vietgone, can do about it. I will just say that it came off as a little cheesy.

Anyways, the play opens up with Paco Tolson as the playwright, Qui Nguyen, explaining how the story is about how two Vietnamese refugees met in America after the Vietnam War, and no, no, no they’re definitely and totally not based on his parents. He explained how the refugees would talk (kinda ghetto), how the elderly Asians would talk (stereotypically), and how the Americans would talk (basically southern accents saying nonsensical words).

Vietgone was told nonlinearly, skipping back and forth between the present day in refugee camps and back in Vietnam before it fell. We needed to be reminded just how much the Vietnamese refugees were hated and distrusted when they got here. Their faces were the faces of the enemy. (Kind of like today with Syrian refugees.)

Quang (Raymond Lee) is a refugee who wants to get back to Vietnam to continue fighting (he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam who was trained in America) and get back to his family who was left there during the fall is Saigon. He meets Huong (Samantha Quan), an elderly Vietnamese lady who was forced to leave Vietnam when her daughter Tong (Jennifer Ikeda) had an extra ticket (perks of working at the embassy) in one of the refugee camps in Arkansas. Huong is over America with no desire to learn English and upon meeting Quang, plans to make her escape with him, to the disbelief of her daughter. 

Obviously, Quang and Tong meet and fall in love, eventually, to both of their dismays. Jon Hoche, who plays a friend of Quang’s, convinces him that he needs to just let his family in Vietnam mourn him because he doesn’t know if they’re even alive and when he steps off the boat, he will be immediately arrested and detained for being an American-trained pilot. The two eventually marry, work really hard to make a life for themselves in America, and give birth to the playwright. 

The final scene really brought everything together. It’s between the playwright and his father and he’s still asking him about the war, while at the same time dismissing it, saying that American had no business getting involved. His father looses his temper and dresses down his son, telling him that the only reason either of them are alive is because the Americans got involved. It really makes an American, and we so easily dismiss the war, rethink their opinions on the Vietnam War. 

This was the perfect show to see before the upcoming revival of Miss Saigon, rapping or not. The cast was fantastic and versatile, with some playing a half-dozen characters. I hope Vietgone has a second life somewhere. It deserves it.

Hamilton Prediction

I stopped reading the Hamilton cancellation thread on BroadwayWorld after I was able to buy tickets the last time they went on sale. The waits had gotten to 3+ days and there’s no show worth losing that much time over. So: no. I was wasting far too much time reading about teenagers “choose to be homeless” to obtain tickets to a show. 

But last night, I was curious as to how the waits were now that 3 of the principal cast members (including the writer) were gone and I was shocked – sort of – to see that you could now, apparently, get in line the day-of at 6am and get tickets for the show that night. 

I’m starting to think that Lin-Manuel Miranda, lyrical genius as he may be, let Hamilton be more about him – as Lin-Manuel – than about Alexander Hamilton and that Hamilton, the show, without him won’t last anywhere near as long as we all thought – Decades? Centuries?! 

I think the market will soon be saturated. Everyone who has the means to see Hamilton on Broadway soon will have done so and ticket demand, as well as ticket prices, will start to go away. I mean, it’s already been filmed for mass consumption. The tour is starting soon, too (and it has a pretty bomb cast). 

I’m going to place my bets on Hamilton running a good 5 years. This is a fantastic run for any show on Broadway, including Hamilton (and they’ve also already recouped, so fuck it, right?). 

We will see, I suppose. 

My Annual TONY Award Picks

I saw a lot of good theatre this season. Much more than I thought possible. And tonight the Hamilton Tony Awards are on. I saw a lot but I didn’t see everything. I’ll go ahead and say who I think should win and I’ll signify the shows I haven’t seen with a ^. Sound good? Good. 

Best Play – Honestly I have no idea what will win. i only saw two of these and the other two I wasn’t blown away buy. I thought Eclipsed was super powerful though. 

Eclipsed 

The Father^

The Humans

King Charles III^

Best Musical – Obviously Hamilton will win. It would be a huge upset if, say, School of Rock or Waitress won and I’d be 100% okay with that, but yeah, let’s move on. I would say I’m ashamed that I’ve only seen two of the nominated Best Musical nominees, but I’m not. I was very unmotivated to see Bright Star, had no interest in seeing Shuffle Along, and Hamilton was impossible to get tickets to. 

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock – The Musical

Shuffle Along…. ^

Waitress

Best Revival of a Play – The only nominee I didn’t see was A View From the Bridge and I always miss that whenever it’s revived, but whatever. I think it will end up being The Crucible and I think that’s just fine. Long Day’s Journey could get it because of Jessica Lange though. Who knows. 

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Blackbird

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Noises Off

Best Revival of a Musical – This is a total toss up between The Color Purple and Fiddler on the Roof for me. The last incarnations of both productions were just so bad that these were so great by comparison. Spring Awakening was creative but not necessarily worthy of an award. I haven’t seen She Loves Me (yet, going in July) and I hear it’s great, so who knows. I think I’d lovvvvve for Fiddler to get it though. #JewPride

The Color Purple

Fiddler on the Roof

She Loves Me^

Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical – Hamilton has no book and since there are only four producers behind Hamilton, hopefully they won’t be able to vote their own way on this one. I can see Bright Star running away with this one (though I haven’t seen it).

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock – The Musical

Shuffle Along….^

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – I’m, like, 110% sure this going to Hamilton but maybe some voters have a soft spot for Steve Martin, Sarah Bareilles, or Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

Bright Star^

Hamilton^

School of Rock-The Musical

Waitress

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – I haven’t seen The Father but I have a hunch it’s going to Frank Langella. If not him, I think definitely Gabriel Byrne. 

Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father^ 
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III^ 
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – I think Jessica Lange has this one locked in, but I could see Lupita Nyong’o or Sophie Okonedo stealing it and upsetting a whole lot of people. 

Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – I think this should definitely go to Danny Burstein, but I’m pretty sure Lin-Manuel or Leslie will take this. 

Alex Brightman, School of Rock-The Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me^ 
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton^ 
Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – I hear Laura Benanti is amazing in She Loves Me, but if anyone but Cynthia Erivo takes this award home, I’ll burning down Times Square.

Laura Benanti, She Loves Me^ 
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star^ 
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – I hear Reed Birney is locked in and although I didn’t love The Humans off-Broadway, I thought it was really great, as always. 

Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III^ 
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – I’d love to see Saycon Sengbloh take this but I think Andrea Martin probably will.

Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – I’m pretty sure it’s going to be someone from Hamilton, but Christopher Fitzgerald just totally stole every seen in Waitress. 

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton^ 
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along…^
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress^ 
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton^ 
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton^

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical –
I’d love it if Danielle Brooks took this home because she’s a powerhouse, but I think it’ll go to Renee Elise Goldsberry. 

Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton^ 
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me^ 
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!^ 
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along…^

Best Scenic Design of a Play – I don’t remember Therese Raquin or The Humans having an amazing set, so it will be A View From the Bridge. 

Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin
Christopher Oram, Hughie^ 
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^ 
David Zinn, The Humans

Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Give this one to American Psycho. I know it will probably go to Hamilton because we all now pray at the holy grail of Hamilton, but seriously, that set looks like a wooden version of Taboo’s set, or Rent’s set. 

Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
David Korins, Hamilton^ 
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along…^
David Rockwell, She Loves Me^

Best Costume Design of a Play – I think Noises Off could get this. The set was really well designed and versatile. 

Jane Greenwood, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Michael Krass, Noises Off
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Tom Scutt, King Charles III^

Best Costume Design of a Musical – I see Hamilton taking this even though they’re just re-purposing Felicity’s wardrobe from the American Girl Dolls collection. But whatever.

Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me^ 
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along^
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton^

Best Lighting Design of a Play – The lighting was ace for Long Day’s Journey and The Crucible. I hope Crucible takes it.

Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Seriously, again, give it to American Psycho. That’s all I ask of you. 

Howell Binkley, Hamilton^ 
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along…^
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho

Best Direction of a Play – Please give this one to Jonathan Kent just because Long Day’s Journey is such a beast. 

Rupert Goold, King Charles III^ 
Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge^

Best Direction of a Musical – Michael Arden definitely deserves it for his originality but it’ll go to Hamilton.

Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me^ 
Thomas Kail, Hamilton^
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along….^

Best Choreography – I would love to see Fiddler take this home, but Hamilton will get it. 

Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton^ 
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along…^
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea^ 
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan^

Best Orchestrations – Hamilton will definitely take this.

August Eriksmoen, Bright Star^ 
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me^ 
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton^ 
Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along…^

So, overall, there was a lot I didn’t see, but it was because some of this season didn’t seem all that appealing. Maybe some of the performances tonight will change my mind. I remember how unbelievably boring the 2002 and 2003 Tony Awards were when The Producers and Hairspray took most of the awards in each of their years and those years are always the worst.

Hopefully the Tony voters did the right thing and voted for what was best, not what’s most popular. Happy watching!

Rules were made to be broken. It is criminally insane that most of the orchestra was being sold for $849/ticket. As you can see, I did NOT buy those tickets. These are for February 1st and that’s 7 months away. I can opt to do the cancellation line at any point and sell these off, but in the case that I don’t (and that’s likely going to be the case because eff that), I have these. 

It will be totally tragic not to see certain members of the original cast, but having not seem them before, I won’t know the damn difference. 

Ticketmaster is currently crashing. Godspeed to one and all. 

Hamilton X’ion Line

Today, June 1st, was the day that @endotique and I were going to brave the cancellation line at Hamilton. She saw it in December and offered me one of her tickets, if she got in, but I felt bad because she had gotten there at 6am and I had been lazy, so I declined out of principal. Now I sure as fuck wish I’d said yes, but that is neither here nor there. Both of our significant others wanted to see it now, as well as myself, so we planned to grit our teeth and do the line. 

These plans were obviously canceled as we are both showered and at our jobs today and not dirty from having slept on the sidewalk last night. (Take my word for it.)

We kept track of the cancellation line thread on BroadwayWorld over time and as the date approached, we grew more apprehensive of attempting this. Was it really worth it? She’d said it was a really, really solid show. Like more solid than anything she’d seen in years. I’ve only heard the score and I thought it was super catchy. But was it worth a 24+ hour wait on the sidewalk? We questioned that. Hard.

We are seasoned at waiting in lines for tickets. In fact, it’s how we met. We met waiting on line for 10+ hours for front row seats to the final performance of Lennon (total Broadway hit!). That was different – it was the last show, the tickets were $25, and they were guaranteed. 

Anyway, the Hamilton cancellation line is a total shitshow. Line sitters, new rules from the theatre intended to cut down on line sitters which really don’t, animosity from other insane people on the line, and enduring this massive load of bullshit doesn’t even guarantee you tickets. People are lining up two days ahead of showtime. 

I’m sorry to break it to everyone but there is no show on earth, ever, that is worth living on the street for two or three days. I understand college students oftentimes have nothing to do for days on end during the summer, but come on. Get an internship or a job. Do something productive. Then you can afford tickets when more go on sale. And then there are all the out-of-towners asking if it’s “safe in Times Square overnight for a woman.” Apparently these people don’t know that Rudy Guiliani happened in the 90′s. 

I somehow missed the signal that more Hamilton tickets were going on sale when they released the last block, but I won’t next time. Sure, some of the original cast will be gone but I will never have seen them so I won’t know the difference.

This is just a word to the people considering this: don’t do it. You’re smarter than this. There are lots of other fantastic shows out this season – The Color Purple, or Fiddler on the Roof, for example. Go see those instead. Go see anything else because no show is worth a 48-72 hour wait on the street and if you think otherwise, please consult a neurologist ASAP. 

It (Doesn’t) Suck to Be Me

This won’t be much of a review since Avenue Q has been around since 2003. Everyone’s seen it (if you like theatre) and everyone knows it’s greatness. I hadn’t seen Avenue Q onstage (so: at all) since 2005 or 2006. It was a great little show and I saw it twice on Broadway. When J mentioned that he’d heard “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is For Porn,” I thought it’d be a great birthday present and it was.

He liked it so much more than we both ever could’ve imagined. He never stopped laughing. I, of course, enjoyed it, too. It was nice to see it again, this time in a smaller space. The cast was fantastic across the board. 

J spent the rest of the weekend ranting and raving to anyone who would listen about how good the show was. And like I said, he’s lost most of his interest in seeing Hamilton now because he doesn’t think it could entertain him more than Avenue Q did. Is Hamilton as funny as Avenue Q? Likely not. I’m certain it has it’s own merits though – duh, of course.

The moral of this story? Since no one can get tickets to Hamilton, go see Avenue Q. Obviously. Because it’s (still) a solid and terrifically entertaining show.

Lazy

You know how I stopped working in theatre a year and a half ago? (Maybe longer? I’ve lost track.) Well, I sure don’t miss it (save for the free tickets) but my theatre-going has slowed a bit. Oftentimes afterwork, I’m just all, “I just want to go home,” or, “I’m just going to go to yoga.” Trying to get a super cheap back-of-the-theatre or rush ticket just doesn’t sound appealing. 

I know, I’m so whiny – I’d have to take the train 3 stops, then get off and check, and then possibly get back on. The horror. I guess, technically, I also want to hang out with my cat while she’s still getting used to living with me. (Secretly I think she counts down the minutes until I leave in the morning but I could be wrong.)

But I’m slowly rectifying that. I purchased a ticket yesterday for Saturday’s matinee to Tuck Everlasting for starters. I really think it sounds 100% boring, but it has a great cast and it was the only show that had a Saturday matinee on TDF, so why not

Secondly, while I contemplated going to see a show last night, specifically Waitress (because @endotique says it was great), I decided against it and bought a ticket for May 18th instead. Afterwards I picked up tickets for an irreverent musical for J’s birthday in a couple of weeks. I’m not saying what it is here incase he reads here, but he’ll love it. 

What else do I need to see? Blackbird, Bright Star, Fiddler on the Roof, possibly Fully Committed, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (amazing cast), The Father (why not?), She Loves Me, The Color Purple (I’d have no interest after seeing the original production but I hear this one is fantastic), The Crucible (I’ve never seen it live and who doesn’t love a 3-hour play about McCarthyism?) and, oh yes, Hamilton. I guess. (I’ll do the cancellation line sooner or later before Lin leaves.)

I’m pretty sure that’s about it. Ten shows. It’s a play-heavy list, that’s for sure. I want to see American Psycho again soon but hopefully that’ll be around for a little while.

Writing it out in a list like that makes it not seem so insurmountable. One show every week? Every two weeks? Done in no time. Except for Hamilton. I’ll have to take a Monday or Tuesday off from work to sit in the cancellation line to get tickets for my dude and I to that fucker. Goddamn you, Lin-Manuel. 

‘Hamilton’ hiring practices under fire due to discrimination

This has been the hot topic this week in the theatre world (you know, aside from how much blood is currently being used in American Psycho). My boyfriend found this link and sent it to me and immediately I shook my head.

This is simply poor wording on the part of (Bernie) Telsey & Co. Someone pointed out that Bright Star wrote “all roles are Caucasian” in their casting announcement but they weren’t receiving any flak (that show is also not the mega-hit that Hamilton so it’s not under the same microscope).

The difference is, I think, that Hamilton’s casting notice was exclusive of a huge group of people, while Bright Star’s announcement wasn’t telling any “NON-[Insert Ethnicity]” to audition. Bright Star was simply stating a fact: their cast is white, but feel free to waste your (and our) time and audition if you want to

Can I just point out that if you’re an actor auditioning for Hamilton and you’re white and you don’t already know that you’re not going to be cast as any of the leads, you’re doing your job [of staying knowledgable about the industry] poorly. Sierra Boggess isn’t trying to audition for The Lion King because she knows better. 

While it was in poor taste of Telsey & Co. to write a casting notice so horribly worded, I think the backlash they’re receiving is also due in part to White People looking for a reason, any reason, to play the victim and shout about how they’re being discriminated against when, obviously, they’re not. At all. It’s like when Christians scream about the War on Christianity. It’s not an actual thing.

Maybe White People can just accept the fact that not every show will need their talents, front and center, from now on. Otherwise, not that Bernie Telsey will actually read this, but I hope this “controversy” will make casting directors think about how they word future announcements.

‘Hamilton’ hiring practices under fire due to discrimination

A Visit to Hamilton Heights // Hamilton’s The Grange

After watching the Hamilton performance from the Grammy’s, I finally listened to the cast recording in it’s entirety on Spotify last week. The performance on the Grammy’s didn’t translate very well, but I’m pretty sure musicals don’t often translate well to TV. The score is very catchy, I’ll give it that. I noticed the same four to six musical themes being reprised over and over and it’s long, but it’s good. I think the lyrics are great.

I thought the story was really interesting and I knew Alexander Hamilton’s house was in Harlem so I convinced Justin, who is a history junkie, to walk up to 141st Street on Sunday after brunch and he was more than happy to oblige. Hamilton Heights still isn’t the best area in Harlem. The mile and a half walk from my apartment is only half questionable.  The City College campus, though, was on the walk up and it was gorgeous. The buildings are SO pretty. You can see one of the building’s behind the house below:

image

We walked up to the house and into the lower level. The next tour of the actual house wasn’t starting for about an hour, so we just walked around the ground floor exhibit which contained an exhibit about his life and everything he accomplished. The house was actually moved from it’s original site on 143rd Street in 1889 to 141st Street, but Hamilton owned a huge portion of Harlem – something like 32 acres. Across from his house is a statue of him in the courtyard of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. 

We hopped in a cab home afterward. It was a treat that’s so close to my apartment. I need to do more historical things in the city. Things like walking tours and stuff now that it’s getting nicer out. 

image

Saturday Wanderings

One of my favorite things about New York is wandering. You never know what hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bar/bakery/shop is around the corner just waiting to be discovered. 

Saturday started out almost exactly like every other morning: get up (though a couple of hours later, of course), go to the gym, shower, eat, etc. Of course it was all much slower and more relaxed because I didn’t have to go to the office, duh. Anyways, I digress, around 1:30 I made my way to Times Square to meet Justin and see when the earliest date we could buy tickets for Hamilton was. Spoiler alert: It was far away, so now I’m planning on going through my contacts to try to pull strings for house seats in a couple of months. We’ll see what happens.

We walked over to 44th and 10th Ave to try pizza from Claudio’s after hearing it was good on RG. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but probably not worth the walk to 10th Avenue to Times Square. Still: good to check it off the list.

image

mmmmmmm, health food. 

After pizza, Justin wanted sneakers so we headed down to SoHo to Under Armour. After successfully procuring the aforementioned basketball sneakers. we wandered down and around SoHo. I saw the graffiti below somewhere south of Houston and Mercer but I can’t remember the exactly location. Can someone do this in my apartment? I couldn’t get a good photo of it either because some tourist was trying to take her best casually-walking-with-my-latte-in-front-of-some-gritty-street-art-how-cool-am-I selfie. Spoiler: tourist + selfie-stick = not cool.

image

We wandered to Broome Street to Black Tap Burger and thought there was no line when we walked in, but the line was actually outside around the corner and down 6th Avenue. So completely ridiculous. We aborted mission and popped into Broome Street Bar for sustenance instead. 

Our last stop on our wanderings we decided would be Meow Parlour. I had no idea what the wait would be like but we wandered for a while (it’s probably a mile or maybe more from Broome/6th to Hester/Ludlow), passing through streets and around corners that we were both unsure whether or not we’d ever passed through before in 10+ years of residency in New York. It’s definitely gritty in some parts, hipster-ish in some parts, and gross in others. Upon arriving, we were told there was a list and it could be up to 45 minutes to an hour. They had a cafe you could wait in around the corner, we headed there and a few minutes after receiving our lattes, we were called back. 

This place is worth a separate post, but here’s one photo to hold you over:

image

That’s Matt, a Maine Coon cat and so pretty. Here are the other cats we hung out with. I wanted to take him home with me but he was kind of skiddish. He’d give you a few minutes of petting time before running away. 

We journeyed home on the D train and stopped for dinner and a drink at Amsterdam Tavern before calling it a night. As the weather gets nicer again, I look forward to having more of these days because I think if you’re living here and not exploring on a regular basis, you should probably just save your money and live in the suburbs.