The Weekend

This weekend was oh-so nice. It started on Friday night when J and I went down to The Library (the bar at the Public) to celebrate his birthday with his friends, many of whom I just adore. It was super fun, though we both probably consumed far too much alcohol. 

We ordered in carb-loaded breakfasts from my local diner the next morning to fight our hangovers before going to see Avenue Q at New World Stages. It was my first time seeing it since 2005 or 2006 and it totally holds up. I’ll write about it more in depth later on but it’s still so great. J loved it SO, SO much. He couldn’t stop talking about it the entire weekend. Now he’s all, “I’m sure Hamilton’s great, but is it funnier than Avenue Q? Probably not.” 

He had to run home and I had to go home to see my cat and take a nap, but we met back up later on to go meet his friend from DC who he hadn’t seen in 3 years. We attempted to go to Flatiron Hall, but it was packed, so we went across the street to a mostly-empty bar (I can’t remember the name) and didn’t leave until probably 1am. So late. It was so exhausting but it was fun. (I nursed one beer the entire time because the thought of drinking more hurt my face.)

Sunday included a trip to Book Culture to take advantage of their 20% off sale. I hate buying books simply because they’re cheap, but I bought a Kon Mari-esque book called The Joy of LessYes Please by Amy Poehler, and Just Kids by Patti Smith. I cooked this sausage/kale/carrot noodle soup from the Inspiralized blog (it’s SO GOOD) and we watched “The Invasion” on HBOGo (it was entertaining and I’d recommend watching it if you’re bored, though it was 100% ridiculous). 

After an hour or so in the gym, I made sausage/carrot noodle/spinach/siracha rice wraps. So good. The rice wrap is kind of hard to handle but worth it not to have all the carbs of a regular wrap. 

We ended the night watching Show Business and later watching Game of Thrones (he watched, I played with my cat). I hadn’t watched Show Business in so long. It brought back so many good memories. To my shock and delight, J found it super interesting and loved seeing the progression of Avenue Q, in addition to watching Raul Esparza do theatre (currently he only knows him as DA Barba on SVU).

Overall, a solid weekend. 

I accepted a last-minute invite to see Eclipsed, a recent transfer from the Public Theatre, last Thursday night, and I knew pretty much nothing about it. I’d read that it was about women in Liberia so I knew it probably wasn’t going to be a comedy. I also knew Lupita Nyong’o was in it and although I didn’t remember her in 12 Years a Slave specifically (I saw the movie once years ago), I knew I was in for a treat.

Written by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, it took place during the political conflict in Liberia in 2003 and focused on four wives of a commanding officer of the rebels. The newest wife was Lupita and she was actually educated meaning she could read and captured after her parents were taken (I think). The wives live together in a hut and are basically just there to satisfy the CO when he needs it. 

After the conflict ends, Lupita needs to decide whether to go with the rebels or go to safety. We’re not sure which she ends up choosing. The play was intense and depressing interspersed with moments of comedic relief. All five women were excellent, especially Lupita. Saycon Sengbloh has come a long way since Wicked

This wouldn’t be my first choice for a night out at the theatre, but it was definitely a powerful piece, as well as educational. 

A few weeks back I saw Here Lies Love at The Public Theatre downtown. I’d missed it’s first production but I was thrilled it was back again and I was going to be able to see it. I had listened to the cast recording one day at work a few weeks early but I still had no idea what it was about. I didn’t know who Imelda Marcos was, or even that she was a real person (Thanks, Global History, for nothing!).

I loved Sleep No More, and countless other immersive shows, but this was by far the most fun I’ve ever had a one. I got onstage and danced. I moved around with the ever-rotating set. I loved it. About 2/3 of the way through, I thought, “Um, okay, I think this is a true story,” and yes, it is. I’m an idiot sometimes.

The music is amazing. Fatboy Slim and David Byrne have outdone themselves. It is a fantastic, memorable score. Ruthie Ann Miles, Jose Llana, and Conrad Ricamora were equally brilliant in their lead roles (Imelda, Marcos, and Aquino). I especially enjoyed the DJ, who was played that night by Vincent Rodriguez III. He definitely raised the energy in the room before the performance so that we were all amped up by the time it began.

If there is one show – experience – you venture downtown for this season, it’s Here Lies Love. It’s a history lesson and theatrical experience rolled into one. 

(Disclosure: The company I work for works on Here Lies Love, but opinions are all my own.)

I saw Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Delacorte two Sundays ago after I found out my friend Steve was able to get an extra ticket for me. I missed out on Comedy of Errors, sadly, but I was stoked to see this one especially because Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman were behind the score. Oh, and did I mention that it was an hour-forty with no intermission? Lastly: the cast seemed pretty kick-ass. 

All of this was an equation for an awesome show.

Well, it had it’s moments. I would prefer to listen to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson any day (as I don’t remember any of Love’s score). The set was beautiful, the band was great (I love that the conductor was occasionally part of the cast), and the cast was pretty kick-ass.

I really enjoyed the performances that Patti Murin, Daniel Breaker, and Kevin Del Aguila gave. I thought it was really awesome to see Rory Thayer (the red head from the movie Accepted) onstage too. 

So I’ve seen better at the Delacorte, but I’ve also certainly seen worse. 

This week I saw a preview of the Public Theatre’s In the Wake, by Lisa Kron.  The story is highly political, starting after the election in 2000 and going through to after the election in 2004.  I was particularly excited because Marin Ireland was starring as the conflicted and political protagonist Ellen.  I first saw Marin Ireland in a play called Manuscript at the DR2 Theatre in 2005 and have followed her career ever since.  

While the country is in their wake, Ellen is in a wake of her own while navigating her way through her long term relationship with her boyfriend, Danny, while maintaining a long distance [open] relationship with a woman in Boston, Amy.  The play is overly verbose and tangents are numerous and often confusing.  One of my favorite characters was Judy, one of Ellen’s relatives from a poor family who now works in third world countries and is fully jaded to the government system in America and makes no attempt to hide her opinion.

I liked the premise of the play and the cast was great all around, but the script needs a lot of work and a lot of trimming.  Ellen’s monologues that divide the scenes served, in my opinion, no purpose and as previously stated, there is a lot of pointless ranting.  The play currently clocks in at two hours and a forty minutes, but two hours would have been sufficient and I don’t think anything would have been lost.

If you like political plays and great acting, get yourself down to the Public before November 21st.

For more information, click here.  

(photo via)

And lastly (yes, I promise!), a few of my favorite off-Broadway Playbills.  Looking through my collection, I was really proud of all the random stuff I’ve seen (L-R):

  • SLUT! the Musical: This musical was hilarious and starred Andy Karl and Mary Faber (before she was an Idiot).  
  • The Overwhelmed – at Roundabout which starred Michael Stahl-David, who later went on to star in Cloverfield.  
  • suBurbia – the revival at Second Stage which starred Kieran Culkin (as well as Michael Esper – though I totally don’t remember him in it!), and a bunch of extremely talented 20 something actors.
  • The Atheist – I went to see this solely because Chris Pine was starring.  It was a one man show and I thought he did a fantastic job.  
  • Spring Awakening – off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company in 2006.  We sat onstage and it was well, interesting to say the least.  I didn’t love it after the first act (I hated the microphones) but I got more into it in the second act.  Off-Broadway, John Gallagher Jr. made his entrance by popping out of the seat that was right next to my friend’s seat.  We both screamed when he popped up!
  • Distracted – starring Cynthia Nixon at Roundabout.  This was a play about a mother who battles with whether or not she should be medicating her child after he is diagnosed with ADD.  Nixon is a truly fantastic actress onstage and on-screen.
  • After Ashley – my first play at the Vineyard about the exploitation of tragedy in the 21st century, starring Dennis Hopper, Kieran Culkin, and Anna Paquin.  
  • Some Americans Abroad – about a school group abroad in London.  I went to see it solely because Anthony Rapp was in it.  
  • Walmartopia – I included this because it remains the ONLY show I’ve ever walked out of during intermission.  It was just that bad.  
  • Next to Normal at Second Stage.  To say the show was in shambles and way too long is an understatement.  The second act felt like it was 3 hours long.  It had some good moments but they definitely cleaned it up for the better.
  • Port Authority at Atlantic Theatre Company that starred John Gallagher Jr., Brian Darcy James, and Jim Norton.  It was… interesting.  I could’ve used a second viewing.  
  • Stuff Happens at the Public Theatre.  This was a play written by David O’Hare about the events after 9/11 that lead to the Iraq War.  The title comes from when Dick Cheney was quoted as saying “stuff happens!” in response to a question about a tragedy happening.  I loved this.