It Only Takes a Taste

Last Wednesday I went to my final show of a marathon (for me nowadays) of 7 shows in 2.5 weeks, Waitress. I hadn’t (and still haven’t, though it’s on my queue) seen the movie, hadn’t listened to any of the music, and I don’t know any of Sara Bareilles’ music (maybe a partial lie – I’ve heard, like, one song before), but I heard it was good, and the last row of the mezzanine is super cheap (and actually not awful, take note!). I’d also not yet had the pleasure of seeing Jessie Mueller in a leading role so I was quite excited for that, too. 

I arrived at the theatre to the scent of baked goods (good job, producing team, that was the right choice), immediately became hungry, and took my seat. The rear mezzanine seats at the Brooks Atkinson are not bad at all. It’s not like the St. James where you feel miles above the stage (that’s the balcony, I guess, but still, they’re awful seats). I looked at the cast and only recognized a few of the names in addition to Mueller’s. A cast of unknowns – awesome!

I knew the basic plot of the show – waitress in a redneck town gets knocked up – but not more than that. It’s a pretty typical plot as far as plots about girls getting knocked up in redneck towns go. Abusive husband? Check. Witty group of friends/colleagues? Check. The boss who’s also a semi-father figure/advice giver? Check. A new love interest? Check. 

Jenna (Mueller)’s friends at the diner Dawn (Kimiko Glenn) and Becky (Keala Settle) were both hysterical, and super talented. I realized at intermission that Kimiko is So-So from Orange is the New Black and she has a terrific voice and she’s a great actress. Drew Gehling (who plays Jenna’s new love interest, and her OBGYN, Dr. Pomatter) was just delightful. He was nervously awkward but very genuinely sweet. Dawn’s love interest, Ogie (Christopher Fitzgerald), totally steals every scene he’s in. Give him an honorary Tony Award for comedy or something. 

The show’s conclusion is logical, but disappointing. I guess such is life, too. I really enjoyed the score (good job, Bareilles), as well as the lighting. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the choreography. Side note: the sets are all automated. At the end of the first scene of the second act, an announcement went over the PA system saying they were taking a 10 minute break for technical difficulties. Shortly thereafter we got back on track. #livetheatre

I’m not sure whether it was the short pause in the second act, or the overall length of the show, but although I really enjoyed it, it felt it was 15-20 minutes too long. It definitely worth a visit though, especially if you like Sara Bareilles. 

Last thing: I totally bought the $10 pie-in-a-jar at intermission. You just want some baked goods, any baked goods, after the first act. Nom.

That’s me deep in conversation with world-famous playwright Henrik Ibsen outside his apartment in Oslo, Norway. And since I know you’re all (not) dying to know what I’m dying to see during the Broadway season that started (in September), here goes:

Hamilton: No, I haven’t run to see it yet. Lin-Manuel Miranda is fine and dandy, but I’m not a super-fan of his. I’ll see it at some point. It’s not going anywhere. I’m sure it’s great.

The Crucible: Classic Arthur Miller with Ciaran Hinds, Jim Norton, and Tavi Gevinson? Sigh me up.

Fool For Love: I love both Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell so I’m THERE. I’ll be buying 30-under-30 tickets as soon as I can drag my lazy butt to the box office.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: YES, YES, YES. I’ve never seen this staged professionally but I worked on it in college and it’s Eugene O’Neil and it’s great. And there’s John Gallagher Jr.! What’s not to be excited about?

Noises Off: Two words: Tracee Chimo. Enough said. Oh, and Rob McClure.

School of Rock: This could be a good adaptation or it could be awful. I hope it’s good. 

She Loves You: I’ve never seen this show or heard the score so I’m very interested. And the cast is great: Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, etc?

Tuck Everlasting: I’ve never seen this movie but it has an awesome cast. Terrance Mann back on Broadway!

A View From the Bridge: More Arthur Miller! I missed the last production, so maybe I’ll actually make it to this one.

Waitress: So, four new musicals on Broadway this season? Sad.com. I’ve heard lots of hype but really, um, maybe? I’ve never seen the movie, but the plot sounds basic. Jessie Mueller is awesome, soo… maybe? I don’t have much of an opinion on this. But if I get a free or cheap ticket, I’d totally go. 

Taking Her Tony Home

This article, about Jessie Mueller, was really adorable. I highly suggest you read it. I’m sure she was totally excited to do this interview this morning after partying all night at the Carlyle 😉

The top moments from last night:

  1. A Gentleman’s Guide winning Best Musical. Obviously. (Full disclosure: my current office of employment works on the show so we were all incredibly happy.)
  2. Hedwig’s performance. it was the best (GGLAM following a close second!). Hedwig is going to be sold out for their entire run soon. Mark my words.
  3. Lena & NPH winning their much deserved awards.
  4. Bryan Cranston and All the Way winning. Love that show. 
  5. Jessie Mueller’s acceptance speech. She was so sincere. 

Let’s see, last night’s WTF moments were as follows:

  1. The Wicked performance. That was the best they could do? Come on. Idina Menzel was in the house – throw her $10k to perform Defying Gravity. She’s a single mom now, so she could probably use the extra money, right? (No, I’m just being an asshole and I’m completely kidding. I think she makes upwards of $20k/week for If/Then, she’s fine.) This performance was a waste of time and a dishonor to a show that’s been on Broadway and selling out for 10 years. 
  2. The Music Man rapping. WHAT WAS THIS? Everyone at the party was speechless. We had no idea what was going on. 
  3. Nikki James in Les Miserables. Jesus christ. When is she scheduled to go on vacation because I cannot sit through a production of Les Miserables for three hours where Eponine sounds like a, and I quote, bag of dying babies. Miscast, indeed.  
  4. Celia Keenan-Bolger and The Glass Menagerie losing. WHAT? This was not supposed to happen. Wires got crossed somewhere.
  5. The opening number. Look, I get it, I read online today why Hugh Jackman was hopping, but even if I’d gotten the reference when I was watching it, it was still incredibly boring. It was one of the most lackluster openings in a while.

It wasn’t the best Tony’s, but it had it’s moments. I was exhausted and made my way home around midnight. It’s always worth the exhaustion. 

Taking Her Tony Home

And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.

Into the Woods is in my top-3 favorite Sondheim musicals. I was mildly enthralled with the last revival of Into the Woods in 2002. I also had a minor crush on the actor who played Jack. I saw that revival twice and memorized the words when the cast recording was released. Was it the best production ever? Probably not, but it did the trick to spark my interest in the show. When I heard it was going to be one of the shows at Shakespeare in the Park this year, I knew I wanted to see it. After the cast was announced, I knew tickets would be hard to get and after a good two weeks of playing the virtual lotto, my friend Kristen and I gave up and I volunteered to get to the park way-too-early so we could secure tickets.

We’d last waited in line together to get tickets to the 40th anniversary stage of HAIR at the Delacorte in 2007, until to last weekend. I said I’d get there at 6am and she could meet me whenever (as she lives a tad further away now).  And of course in true Public Theater tradition when I woke up last Saturday at 5, it was pouring (like last time). I grabbed my huge blue and white umbrella, a straw sun mat to sit on, some sustenance, and a fully charged cell phone and headed out.

I was 75-100th on the line but an employee from the Public assured us that we were fine and getting tickets. I slept for maybe half an hour, played around on my cell phone and watched as my yoga pants became increasingly soiled with sand and dirt. There were a few more showers, including one huge downpour. Kristen met me around 10:30 and told me to go home to change out of my soaked, dirty clothes (a command that I happily obeyed). The line grew and grew and the end was nowhere in sight around 12pm. We were eventually told to stand and we got our tickets (after which we hopped on the subway down to Second Stage to see if we could get tickets to Dogfight – score!).  Fast forward to 7:15-ish and we take our time walking to the Delacorte, grabbing sandwiches at the theatre’s cafe once we’d arrived (AWESOME sandwiches btw).


We were both exhausted from the day but totally stoked to see what we’d heard was an innovative production. The weather was perfect and the sun was beginning to set behind Belvedere Castle. James Earl Jone’s voice bellowed from the speakers, thanking their donors, and the little boy came downstage and dumped his backpack out to begin the show.

The set was incredible (as you can see above). It was one of my favorite parts of the show. Morgan James had it all wrong when she said musicianship was dead because of this production. Dead wrong. The orchestra sounded beautiful, as did the voices. The lighting was perfect, and I especially enjoyed the way in which they created the giant in the trees.

I was excited to see the wonderful Denis O’Hare as the baker, and he was as impressive as expected. Donna Murphy, as the Witch, blew me away with her interpretation and voice. I was skeptical of Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife as I’d heard mixed things about her, but I was fully impressed equally by her acting and her voice. There may have been a high note or two that she couldn’t sustain, but overall, she was very good. Ivan Hernandez was insanely entertaining as the Wolf (also as Cinderella’s Prince, but more so as the Wolf), and his interpretation of the Wolf was intensely sexual. Lest we forget Chip Zien, as the Mysterious Man, who starred in the original Broadway production as the baker. He’s a brilliantly hilarious actor and he brought everything he had to his role.

My favorite re-interpretation of a character was provided by Sarah Stiles, as Little Red Ridinghood. She was equal parts playful, smart, edgy, obnoxious, and sexual (when it came to the Wolf). Her voice was great also, and I loved her costume (it could best be described as a mix between a traditional Little Red and Leaf Coneybear from Spelling Bee).

Honorable mentions must be made for Gideon Glick, as Jack, who was entertaining and endearing in his portrayal, and Jessie Mueller, as Cinderella, who really does have the beautiful voice that everyone said was the only reason to see On A Clear Day.

Into the Woods was three hours long, but it certainly didn’t feel like three hours. I left the theatre feeling satisfied and happy. Another magical, perfect night at the Delacorte completed. As we exited the park at 11pm, people were already lined up for the next night’s performance. Luckily for them, it wasn’t supposed to rain that night.