This is not your mother’s Avenue Q or even your Book of Mormon. Hand to God is the darkest and most perverse thing on Broadway right now. Set in a small nondescript town in the American south, Hand to God is about a group of kids in a puppet club that meets in the basement of a church once a week and how one hand named puppet takes over Jason’s life and wreaks havoc on the group.

There are moments of laugh out loud hilarity. There’s a line in the first scene that had Kristen and I rolling on the floor for a good five minutes. We also nearly lost our shit during a scene change in the second act (really, Kristen almost died). But in between these moments of absolute hilarity, it drags a bit. It’s really dark and depressing. There are puppets, but not like in Avenue Q and there’s no cute score to go along with it. When the lights went up for intermission we still had no idea what we were watching or why (OK, the “why” is because we bought tickets, but you know what I mean).

The puppet wreaks havoc on the group and after some (er, a lot of) bloodshed, the puppet is thrown off the floor and Jason rushes with his mother to the hospital, claiming that if his possessed puppet hand comes back to life, she will help him. Black out. Then the stage is black and only the puppet head and hands appear. It’s incredibly creepy, and startling, and awesome.

The puppet gives a few minute monologue that MAY have brought the show together for me. It’s about how people started off sacrificing sheep to absolve themselves of their sins but when they realized they were wasting sheep, they decided to use a person and thus, the concept of Jesus was born. The puppet was definitely sneering at the audience and attempting to make us question our own thoughts about life and religion. Was he saying that we used different puppets in life to absolve ourselves of our sins? Or are we the puppets being controlled by some force that may not exist?

Steven Boyer was FANTASTIC as Jason and he better get a lot of nominations this season. Geneva Carr, Michael Oberholtzer, Sarah Stiles, and Marc Kudisch were all great too. Special shout out to Sarah Stiles who is always hilarious in anything she does.

Because this is a play that is dark and at times gruesome with a hard-to-grasp ultimate point, I don’t see this lasting very long, but who knows. I can imagine a lot of confused southern tourists going to see it thinking it’s going to be a happy show about god. That said: see it while you can. It’s worth seeing.

The Beginning of a Rainbow

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Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Mostly with work, which I love regardless of the fact that I work 50-60 hour weeks now. I literally have no complaints. That also means that I get home at 7:30-8pm and crash (or crash after a yoga class at 9). So that hasn’t left a lot of time for show-going.

But that all changes this week and I’m stoked! On Thursday night I’ll be seeing Zosia Manet in MCC’s “Really Really.” I love Girls so this is super exciting in my mind. I’m excited to see what she can do onstage, even though I’ve read a synopsis of the play and I’m assuming her character will be pretty similar to the one on Girls

Later this week on Saturday, I’ll be trekking up to Hartford with some good friends to see the non-equity tour of American Idiot. It’s been about a year since I’ve seen the show live, so I’m looking forward to this treat. A reputable source claims that the Johnny on tour is the best he’s ever seen, so it should be good.

The trip to Hartford is far, and long. But to experience 90-minutes of punk rock bliss, it’s worth it.

Lastly: I’m going to either the second or fourth preview of Matilda next week. I’m REALLY stoked. Considering that this is THE show that will most likely (you heard it here first) sweep the TONYs, I’m so excited. 

So, let’s pray for a low-stress work week and lots of awesome theatre. 

My Top 13 Theatre Moments (or Shows!) of 2012

I was going through my theatre-related posts of this year and I couldn’t pick just 10. Since this is my blog and I make the rules, I decided to do 13. 

1. Bring It On: I had my doubts and reservations about this musical, and maybe I’m a little biased after working on it for a few months, but I loved this show. It was visually stunning, fun, and not totally void of meaning. It had a good meaning overall: Life goes on after high school. I love this show, I’m sad it closed yesterday, and I will definitely miss it.

2. Merrily We Roll Along @ Encores: I went to the final performance and it was my first time having seen it – though I’d heard the music before. The cast was fantastic, as was the material. The atmosphere was also electric. Everyone was so excited to be there.

3. The Other Josh Cohen: This was just a gem of a show. I’m so glad I got to see it.

4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? revival: I had reservations about this too, having seen the last revival with Kathleen Turner, but upon being offered a free ticket, who was I to turn it down? It ended up being pretty incredible. It was probably one of the best things to open on Broadway this fall.

5. Harvey @ Studio 54: A supposed allegory for homosexuality in the mid-20th century, Jim Parsons killed his roll and this show. Loved it.

6. The Bad and the Better (by The Amoralists): I love The Amoralists. This show was a complex story with many layers and a huge cast. It was pretty epic. I don’t know how they afforded to do it, but they definitely did.

7. James Corden in One Man, Two Guv’nors: I loved this play and I probably loved it because James Corden was so goddamn funny. He absolutely killed onstage. He deserved his TONY Award.

8. The Lyons: I saw this play off-Broadway and loved, and saw it twice more on Broadway. I loved it every single time. Probably because Linda Lavin reminded me of my late Jewish grandmother. And… Michael Esper.

9. Once’s Transfer to Broadway: I think the producers transfered this show well. Not much got lost in the bigger space in the Jacobs Theatre and the spirit of the show remained intact. I loved it off-Broadway and it made me cry (twice) on Broadway. I wasn’t sure whether transferring this show was the right thing to do, but I’m happy that they’re doing well ($1 million+/week).  

10. Tribes: This was an off-Broadway show not to be missed. It deserved every bit of praise it received. I loved it a lot possibly because the lead was hearing-impaired so it made it that much more believable, but who knows. It had a healthy run at The Barrow Group and is now going to LA. 

11. Carrie: A cult classic that only existed in bootleg form before MCC revived it. It was cheesy and the music wasn’t so stellar, and I wished there’d been more blood, but it was an experience to be had and seen. I’m definitely glad I paid $20 to sit in the second row. 

12. Jesus Christ Superstar‘s Resurrection: The revival in 2000 wasn’t so good – except for Tony Vincent, duh – but I loved, loved, loved this one, which transferred from the Stratford Theatre Festival. It felt like a digital update, but the incredible rock score was still the intact and the cast was incredible. I don’t care what anyone says, Josh Young was an incredible Judas. I saw this revival twice and my only regret is that I wished I’d seen it again!

13. Assistance: I was an assistant when I saw this so I definitely related. It was hysterical, vulgar, and exaggerated (though I’m sure it’s not so exaggerated for some people). The ending also wins for ‘most unrelated and random ending ever.’ Also: Michael Esper.

That’s my run-down for 2012. There were a dozen or more shows that I saw and didn’t write about (because I suck sometimes), but I’ll try to be better about writing about EVERYTHING in 2013. What were your top theatre moments in 2012? Happy new year!