Review: Six Degrees of Separation

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I had seen exactly zero of the nominees of Best Revival of a Play until last week when Kristen and I purchased tickets on TDF for Six Degrees of Separation, starring the hysterical Allison Janney. The show isn’t selling well and we ended up in the front row. We questioned why this was the case because: Allison Janey, until we saw the play. It’s 100 minutes that is really incapable of being sold in an elevator pitch. Let me try though: “Six Degrees is about three different couples in Manhattan who all have the rug pulled out from under them by a talented conman.” Okay, there, I did it, sort of. But really, does that sound like a play that you’d pay $130/ticket to see? Probably not.

It starts out the day after a couple (Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey), an affluent pair of Manhattanites, have been conned, and they’re entertaining their friends with the story. Flashback to the night before and we meet Paul (Corey Hawkins) an incredibly well-spoken and smart African American young man who claims to be friends with their son at Harvard.

The most hysterical part of this one-act anomaly was a monologue delivered by Doug (played by Cody Kostro) during a montage of whiny monologues from the children of these upper Manhattanites. His is by far the most affected and dejected, and hysterical. “You said sex with dad was like having sex with a salad.” Epic. That was the only way to describe it.

This a relatively large cast for a straight play, but luckily, it’s a talented cast. Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, and Cody Kostro were the stand-outs for me for sure.

Since it’s only 100 minutes, it’s a good night at the theatre to see some fantastic talent and laugh your ass off. Even if you leave the theatre a little confused.

Almost Christmas-For-Theatre-Nerds

The TONY Awards are tomorrow. That’s why I have a picture below of my cat, Playbill, laying on a TONY Awards tote bag that I got years ago at an afterparty. She’s still wondering why she hasn’t been formally invited. She’s always in black tie attire, right?

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I celebrated Theatre Nerd Christmas almost arriving today with a TONY Awards-themed 60 minute Flywheel ride at the Lincoln Square Flywheel, set to all kinds of show tunes. It’s how all rides should be. It was amazing. One of the actresses from Oslo even came by in between her matinee and evening show to ride, which is AMAZING and insane at the same time.

I sort of feel very removed from the TONYs this year, given that I haven’t seen Dear Evan Hansen yet, and that’s supposed to take home the big award of the night. My greatest hope for tomorrow night would be for the Best Musical award to go to Come From Away, inspiring one of the biggest upsets since 2004.  I loved Come From Away and I think it is so timely. But I think Dear Evan Hansen will probably win because the TONYs are usually predictable and boring. That said, here’s who I want to win and who I think will win:

Continue reading “Almost Christmas-For-Theatre-Nerds”

Review: 1984 (aka Timely AF)

Last Thursday Kristen and I went to see the London-transfer of 1984. I’ve never read the book but I heard it was incredibly timely and she had heard it a great production, so off we went. We had great seats in the center orchestra and we eagerly waited for the lights to dim.

I will admit that I was a little bit lost for the first twenty or so minutes. I didn’t fully comprehend that most of the play was a flashback. But when we went back in time and this frightening world of Big Brother and constant surveillance was revealed, it was intense. It did get a bit graphic in the latter part of the single-act piece and it was a full- blown sensory overload; with incredibly bright flashing lights and defeating sound design.

The line that resonated with me the most was the line that went “they didn’t see it coming; they didn’t look up from their screens.” BOOM. Yup, that’s what’s happening now. (I say as I type this on my iPhone.)

Reed Birney was excellent (as always) as O’Brien. Olivia Wilde did a good job, but she was nothing extraordinary. The rest of the (I’ll call it an ensemble) cast did an exceptional job of bringing this unfathomably weird story to life onstage as well.

I hope they tighten it up a bit while it’s in previews. It’s listed as an hour-45 online but it was almost two hours in reality and it was a little slow at times, to be honest. But I think given the current state of our country, a refresher of 1984 is appropriate. So hopefully we WILL look up from our screens should we need to.

Oh, and props must be given where they are due. The social media team for 1984 is killing it. Both of our Instagram postings were found, scoured, and creepy stalker comments were left under our photos. Good job, kids.

And next time on Broadway…

I went through Playbill’s list recently and there are a ton of plays, and some interesting new musicals coming up (as of yesterday) this season. So, here goes in case you missed it, because I definitely (almost) did, your next theatre season will include….

Anastasia – 1st prev. 4/24/17 – Even though they changed this quite a bit from the animated movie, I’m still excited for this. If not just for the costumes and the score. Between this and The Great Comet, there is a heavy Russian-vibe to this season in musicals so far.

A Bronx Tale the Musical – 1st prev. 11/3/16 – I went to the final dress rehearsal of the play based on A Bronx Tale in 2007, but the musical version should be interesting. It’s based on the movie, obviously. 

The Cherry Orchard – 1st prev. 9/15/16, RTC – I’m not a Chekov fan. But this has a pretty awesome cast with Chuck Cooper, Tavi Gevinson, Celia Keenan-Bolger, etc.

Come From Away – 1st prev. 2/18/17 – Interesting premise, awesome cast: Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, Rodney Hicks. I saw a production photo today and it looks like the second incarnation of Once

Dear Evan Hansen – 1st prev. 11/14/16 – I kicked myself for not catching this off-Broadway at Second Stage, but I’ll definitely see it this time around. Jennifer Laura Thompson is back!

The Encounter – 1st prev. 9/20/16 – So this will be on Broadway. I know nothing more. 

Falsettos – 1st prev. 9/29/16 – This show is fine. It’s sad. It’s moving. I guess it’s an appropriate time for it to be revived. Great cast: Stephanie Block, Andrew Rannells, and Christian Borle.

The Front Page – 1st prev. 9/20/16 – Jefferson Mays! John Goodman. John Slattery. Nathan Lane. So seeing this!

The Glass Menagerie – 1st prev. 2/14/17 – I don’t know why this is being revived again so soon after an exquisite revival a couple of years ago but Finn Wittrock, from The Big Short, is in it!

Heisenberg – MTC – 1st prev. 9/20/16 – This doesn’t really sound interesting but you know who is interesting? Mary Louise Parker. 

Hello Dolly – 1st prev. 3/15/17 – I guess it’ll be nice to see this show live? Bette Midler and David Hyde Pearce are in this, which I guess is nice. I’m not really excited though.

Holiday Inn – 1st prev. 9/1/16, RTC – I’d go see this solely for Bryce Pinkham because he is lovely.

In Transit – 1st prev. 11/10/16 – This sounds really cliche and bad. I’m not sure you could pay me to see this. 

Jitney – MTC – 12/28/16 – August Wilson! Yay! 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses – 1st prev. 10/8/16 – Liev Schreiber! 

The Little Foxes – MTC – 1st prev. 3/29/17 Laura Linney AND Cynthia Nixon? Sign me up. 

Miss Saigon – 1st prev. 3/1/17 – I’m so excited for this. I saw the original production when I was 10, maybe 11. I loved it. It’s about time this is back with all the shit that’s seen revivals recently.

The Great Comet – 1st prev. 10/18/16 – Like I’ve said before, this show is great and I’m excited to see it on Broadway. 

Oslo – LCT 1st prev. 3/23/17 – Also kicking myself for not seeing this off-Broadway. Michael Aranov is great.

The Present – 1st prev. 12/17/16 – More Chekov! This time with Kate Blanchet. Still not excited for Chekov. 

The Prince – RTC – 1st prev. 2/16/17 – I don’t know what this is about, but John Tuturro!! After my fandom of The Night Of, I will certainly be seeing this.

Significant Other – 1st prev. 2/14/17 – I need to know who had money to burn because they can buy me a bigger apartment next time instead of bringing the Most Depressing Modern Play Ever Written to Broadway. Excited for Gideon Glick, who is adorable, but this play should stick to a small theatre. This way only small amounts of people can commit mass suicide when the curtain falls.

And that’s it (for now) folks. Happy theatre-ing! 

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!