Oslo: #Not90MinutesNoIntermission

 

I’d mentioned a few weeks back that Kristen and I had bought a bunch of tickets on TDF after the Tony Nominations were announced and one of those shows was Oslo at Lincoln Center. It had a great cast and it was historical. How could it be bad?

Oh yeah, it was three hours long.

Should we get large coffees at Joe beforehand so we’re properly caffeinated?” I’d texted Kristen that morning. She concurred and with large cold brews in hand, we walked over to the Vivian Beaumont. We took our seats in the orchestra, off right of center. The seats were, once again, fantastic. TDF is really killing it lately in that sense. Although it must be mentioned that there’s literally not a bad seat in that theatre. I’ve sat in all of the sections, top and bottom, and they’re all good. A few minutes after 2pm, the incomparable Jefferson Mays walked onto the stage and the lights shifted.

In case you’re living under a rock, Oslo is about the Olso Accords that took place in Oslo (duh) from 1992-1993. Given that I was 6 years old when this happened, and we all know how anything we weren’t responsible for directly is skimmed over in the US school system, I was unaware of everything that went down.

Mays played Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norweigian sociologist and politician, who had a method for conflict resolution that he greatly wanted to attempt to use to solve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. His wife, Mona (the fabulous Jennifer Ehle) worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and together they worked “in developing the back-channel communications that (reportedly) saved the Oslo negotiations from collapsing.” Because despite what our current president might think, it’s pretty hard to negotiate peace in the Middle East and the US and major world powers in 1992 were attempting the same thing and fucking it up royally. His theory was, I believe, that it was more affective for people only associated with two side’s governments to be at the table, rather than the government officials themselves.

It’s incredibly sad to see how hard people worked on this and then how quickly it all fell apart. The last sequence is the cast onstage together reciting the events that lead to the atrophying of the peace agreements and the eruption into the chaos that we know it is today.

Besides Mays and Ehle, Michael Aronov, Anthony Azizi, Dariush Kashani, and Daniel Oreskes all gave powerful performances as the people who involved in the actual negotiations.

But let’s get back to the length for one second. This was by far the quickest 3 hours in a theatre that I’ve ever experienced. I sat through (the slightly longer) August Osage County and that felt lightyears longer than Oslo. Oslo was so engaging that I was never, ever, even for one second bored. I never flipped through my Playbill or checked my watch. THAT’S how you know you’re experiencing a solid piece of theatre.

Oslo just won the Outer Critics Circle Award and I bet that’s not the last award it will win this season, at least I hope not. This is a simple, yet thoroughly engaging production on a timely AF topic with a top notch cast. Get your tickets.

playbill:

My Fair Lady Will Return to Broadway in 2018

My first response to this: Must we REALLY? Then I thought about it for a minute, and I’m all, OK, fine. This hasn’t been on Broadway in a few decades and it is a very Lincoln Center-esque show to produce. To say this show is old fashioned is an understatement (IMHO). 

I read through the script the summer after my senior year of high school. We were going to do it at a theatre that I’d performed at the two summers prior and when the production didn’t come to fruition, I was relieved. I wasn’t a fan of the music and I’d rather watch Pygmalion > My Fair Lady any day of the week. Did I mention that it’s long? Yes, it’s long. It’s your average two and a half hour (forty five minutes?) musicals and that’s way too long for this.

I’m interested to see who they cast but I doubt I’ll be seeing it (unless it’s for free) because there are many other things more worthwhile for me to be doing with my time (like sleeping, for example). 

I went to see Kill Floor because I’d recently watched an episode of Law and Order: SVU that Marin Ireland was the guest star on and I missed seeing her onstage. I had no idea what it was about, but from the artwork, I guessed it was about the meat industry.

it was my first time in the Claire Tow Theatre at Lincoln Center – a totally hip and modern space, completely different than the Mitz E. Newhouse and Beaumont spaces. Kill Floor was about a woman named Andy who was recently released from prison and trying to restart her life. The only job she found was through a connection from high school on the kill floor of a factory farming meat plant. She has a son that she’s trying to re-establish a relationship with who wants nothing to do with her and is somewhat easily taken advantage of and sexually confused. 

The play ended extremely awkwardly and I’m not sure what it was trying to say, if it was trying to say anything. Marin was great, but I’m not sure this is the best play she’s been in. Lincoln Center gave it their best shot with Kill Floor. Not everything can be a hit though. 

A few weeks ago my dude showed me a trailer for a new foreign horror movie called “Goodnight Mommy.” It looks pretty freaky – about two little boys whose mother comes home from having a great deal of plastic surgery and her face is all bandaged up. They start to suspect that she’s really not their mother and someone more sinister. We went to go see it at the Lincoln Center Film Society – the same theatre that I went to see It Follows at in the late winter. It’s a super nice, but tiny, theatre.  I love going there. Anyways, I digress.

I was expecting a deranged mother, or mother figure, tormenting two young boys. It was, in fact, the opposite. There’s some tension between the mother and one of the twins, Lukas, and she’s less than warm towards the other twin, Elias. She only serves breakfast to one child, only tucks one child in, and has no idea who her sons are talking about when they’re playing a game (the one where you guess what the post-it on your forehead says) and they say she’s a person with two children.

It’s odd. It’s really, really weird. And then things get graphic. There’s a considerable amount of blood and some gross action with super glue. I won’t spoil the twist – you can search Google for that if you really want to know – but my dude figured it out less than halfway through the movie and I didn’t think he could be right.

I spent some time Googling ‘Goodnight Mommy theories’ and I found some really interesting ones on Reddit (a site I never use, I swear). It made me like the movie more, despite the gore. Though I will reiterate, the trailer is 100% misleading.

If nothing else, this movie is really good birth control.

The Friday before I saw Aladdin, I was finally able to see The King and I at Lincoln Center. The show is slow and old, but it’s lovely and the score is great. The cast is HUGE. There are SO MANY kids on that stage. I would hate to be a child wrangler for that show.

But Kelli O’Hara was lovely, as always, and totally deserving of her Tony Award. Jose Llana was the king and I think he’s great, but he didn’t come off as powerful or confident enough to be a king. I wish I could’ve seen the original.

The set is huge and great to look at and it’s a great, great production. I’d highly suggest taking in a performance even if your thing is rock musicals and not Rodgers and Hammerstein’s (like me). 

So, you have heard about this debacle last Wednesday night. As it turned out, Matt had invited me to see Shows For Days with him the following night and oh, was it a treat to be at that performance. Patti came out in street clothes before the show and addressed the audience as herself, to much applause and support.

And then the show started.

It was a semi-autobiographical story about Douglas Carter Beane’s early days in community theatre in Pennsylvania. It was full length – two acts – though it didn’t feel long at all. It was entertaining and somewhat predictable at times. 

It was lovely to see Michael Urie onstage again as Car (Beane’s character) ad of course, who doesn’t love a good diva performance by Patti Lupone? No one, that’s who. Also in the cast were Dale Soules, Zoe Winters, Lance Coadie Williams, and Jordan Dean. 

There were lots of laughs and maybe a tear or two at the end. If nothing else, Shows For Days is a lovely piece of theatre history. 

Wow. Just: wow. This was the coolest thing to experience live. I’d been seeing advertisements for this concert for months now but I hadn’t bought tickets until yesterday evening. I bought two $65 tickets in the 27th row of the orchestra and got excited. I love a bunch of Tim Burton’s movies: Sleepy Hollow (#1 favorite), The Nightmare Before Christmas (hello, childhood!), Big Fish, Sweeney Todd (okay, so that one doesn’t count because Sondheim wrote the music, but whatever), etc. 

The first act, in this order, consisted of music from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow (!!!), Mars Attacks!, Big Fish, and Batman/Batman Returns. A young boy named Leif Christian Pedersen sang the “ooo’s” during the Sleepy Hollow sequence and he was excellent.  

At intermission, we saw an audience member in full Beetlejuice attire. That’s some dedication. The second act, in order, was: Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Alice in Wonderland (John-Dominick Mignardi provided the boy soprano vocals, he was also amazing). An amazing violinist named Sandy Cameron dressed in some bad-ass black leather took on the violin solos in the Edwards Scissorhands segment. She was awesome. 

The most special part of the show was when Danny Elfman himself came out to perform the Jack Skeleton vocals during The Nightmare Before Christmas. I had no idea he’d done the vocals for the movie so this was a total surprise. He had SO much fun up there. Four additional performers came out to do the additional voices for “This Is Halloween.” It was just amazing. SO much fun.

This was totally worth the $65 for what turned out to be an awesome seat. They have one more performance, I think, on Sunday, so if you can check it out, get there!

By now you might have guessed that I love a good Macbeth. Whether it be one man and ninety minutes, or three and a half hours with a full ensemble, I just can’ get enough of this drama. Yesterday I went to see Lincoln Center’s revival at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Ethan Hawke was staring in the title role and though I can’t think of a single movie I’ve ever seen him in, I was excited to see what he could do onstage.

The production value was fantastic. The lighting and sound designs, Japhy Weideman and Mark Bennett respectively, made the show fifteen times better than any production I’ve seen before. The three witches were played by men in drag (Malcolm Gets, John Glover, and Byron Jennings), which was amazing. Brian d’Arcy James owned his scenes as Banquo, and Anne-Marie Duff was marvelous as Lady Macbeth. The only weak link in the cast? In my opinion it was Ethan Hawke. He was monotone and had only one expression (he’s kind of the Kristen Stewart of Broadway). Maybe my prejudice comes from having seen two masters, Patrick Stewart and Alan Cumming, play the role before him, but I was far from impressed.

Regardless though I still enjoyed this production immensely. I’d probably even see it again. That’s just how much I love Macbeth

When shall we three meet again?

I love Macbeth. It’s my favorite of Shakespeare’s dramas. I studied it while I was abroad in London. I worked at the last broadway revival starring Patrick Stewart (I watched that production 13 times in all it’s 3 hour and 15 minutes of glory). I was excited but honestly skeptical when I learned it would be coming back again this season.

As a one-man show. That was one act and an hour and forty five minutes long. What?! But the silver lining was that Alan Cumming would be the star. He’d be playing all the characters. Still: the prospect was intimidating.

But yesterday I went to see the recent revival and I was absolutely blown the fuck away.

The premise is that Alan Cumming is a patient in an institution playing all these characters in his padded cell. They make full use of the three cameras and screens watching him. In all fairness, there are two actors in the show with him but they are there mostly to watch over him occasionally and sedate him when necessary.

The concept is truly heartbreaking to watch. Any time Cumming gets a little too into the action he’s imagined, the doctors rush in to sedate and put him back into his bed where he curls up in the fetal position and cries briefly.

Alan Cumming is a force to be reckoned with. He’s incredible. During the curtain call, he seemed very humbled and surprised to be receiving so much attention for his out-of-this-world performance.

I love Macbeth and if you do too, this is a production not to be missed.

Disclosure: My company works on this show, but I am in no way shilling for them.