Significant Other

Despite my better judgment, I went to see Significant Other, the new play by Joshua Harmon that recently transferred to Broadway from Roundabout, this past Sunday with my significant other, my best guy friend, and his significant other. I saw this shortly after I met J in 2015 while it was off-Broadway and it hit me hard in the emotions. I walked out of the Laura Pels thinking Gideon’s character surely killed himself after the lights went down. And to be honest, I kind of wanted to kill myself after the lights went down on Sunday afternoon, regardless of my relationship status. My friends concurred.

I want to start by saying that Gideon Glick is brilliant as the protagonist Jordan, a late twenty-somethings city-dweller. He gives a flawless performance of an extremely flawed character. He has genius comedic timing and I was exhausted watching him exert himself onstage for two and a half hours(ish). I would watch this guy read the phone book because he could make it entertaining. He has monologues that are pages long but he makes it look effortless.

Sas Goldman, who plays the first bride of the night Kiki, reminded me in a weird way of Tracee Chimo in Bachelorette. But in a totally good, weird way. Lindsay Mendez plays a wonderful best friend to Jordan, Laura, who gets caught up in wedding madness when she finally gets engaged. She was able to be strong even when hurt by Jordan’s page and a half tirade on the evening of her bachelorette party. And, last but not least, Rebecca Naomi Jones is the hilariously dark Vanessa who gives no fucks about anything until the day of her wedding.

The men in this show are not at all the focus. Hence why two actors play all six male characters (in addition to Jordan). John Behlman and Luke Smith both do a lovely job playing the various boyfriends and husbands and coworkers of the four main characters.

Because of its incredibly depressing tone, and it’s suicide-inducing ending, I’m not sure it’ll find it’s audience on Broadway, but I know that a lot (most) people could probably relate to Jordan’s feeling of being alone and feeling hopeless. There are lots of parts to make you laugh, and many to also make you feel all the feels. Like any good play should.

Marie and Rosetta // Atlantic Theatre Company, 9.30.16

Last weekend my friend invited me to Atlantic Theatre Company’s main stage in Chelsea to see Marie and Rosetta. It was about Rosetta Tharpe, a guitar playing musician who brought some swing into gospel music, and when she auditioned Marie Knight, a young singer she saw performing in a church. I was interested mainly because Rebecca Naomi Jones was playing Marie, but I also knew the vocal tour de force Kecia Lewis as Rosetta would not disappoint.

The set was a simple funeral parlor, because black singers in that part of the south weren’t really welcome and they took what accommodations they could get. Through out the 90 minutes, the two performers continually get more comfortable with one another and practice different arrangements of Rosetta’s music. Once Marie sheds her church-girl facade, the two performers sync up and the music flows naturally.

I really loved seeing Jones perform again, having not seen her onstage since Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She’s just such a natural talent. I really enjoyed Kecia Jones, too, with her booming voice. The two were a badass duo.

Marie and Rosetta is playing through October 16th and totally worth seeing, even if you don’t know their music. 

Saw this for a third time tonight. I hadn’t seen it in over a year (since Rannell’s last performance) and I went tonight with one of my best friend’s who’s moving back to Florida on Tuesday, sadly. I will miss having him a phone call or text message away from hanging out, but we’ll still visit. We did meet when we were 11 and almost 20 years later, we’re still best friends.

I was nervous about Darren Criss but he was fantastic. I really enjoyed him just as much at NPH or Andrew Rannells. I was also ecstatic to see Rebecca Naomi Jones as Yitzhak. She was so wonderful, as always.

I love this score so much and have since I was 13. Watching Origin of Love or Midnight Radio live onstage will never, ever get old.

#tonightsbill #broadway #theatre #theater #hedwigandtheangryinch (at Hedwig and the Angry Inch)

I had no idea what The Fortress of Solitude was about when my friend told me she had an extra ticket. I read that it was based on a book and Adam Chanler-Berat and Rebecca Naomi Jones were in it. So I told her I was in. I asked her if it was 90-minutes-no-intermission (#nmni) and she laughed and said, “oh no, this is a full two hours and forty five minutes.” I made sure to have an espresso milkshake from Momofuku beforehand.

It was about two boys, Mingus and Dyland, in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn in the 70’s when it was still called Gowanus. Both lived with their fathers and were abandoned by their mothers. One black (Mingus), one white (Dylan), they seem to be on a good path until Dylan is accepted to Stuyvesant High School and Mingus is left on his own to attend public school in Gowanus. We see the incredibly different lives they lead and after high school Dylan runs away to UC Berkeley because that’s where his mother left him to go. He makes a career for himself as a music critic there. 

A major aspect in both of their lives is soul music: for Dylan, it’s the music on the records his mother leaves behind and for Mingus, it’s the music that his father was previously famous for. Dylan’s mother leaves behind her wedding ring which acts as a magnet bringing the boys together, and eventually resulting in their final fight as adults.

The largely ensemble cast is uniformly excellent. Allison Whitehurst deserves special recognition for dancing in roller skates. And David Rossmer didn’t let his bandaged arm and hand in a cast bring him down (he apparently sliced the tip of one of his fingers recently), he was hilarious. Rebecca Naomi Jones did a great job with her two roles; I particular enjoyed her rage in act two. Kevin Mambo, as Mingus’ father, was and is always great. Chanler-Berat was fantastic, as per usual, easily conveying the range of emotions that his character goes through. Kyle Beltran as Mingus was the other standout. His character development and decay was perfect.

The show is long – especially the first act. But if they shave twenty minutes off the first act, The Public has another Fun Home on their hands for sure.

Murder Ballad

I saw Murder Ballad on Friday night after hearing numerous positive accounts from friends whose opinions I trust. Also: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Will Swenson, and Cassie Levy? Yes, please sign me up.

I guess site-specific, make your stage shows are the rage now. I guess everyone has to have some schtick and Murder Ballad capitalized on this by basically creating their own theatre in the round at the Union Square Theatre. Where I was sitting was basically where the stage would’ve been. The show’s action centers around a long bar in the front orchestra and a pool table in the house left section of the orchestra.

The plot, although semi-cliche, is compelling enough to keep you interested for 80 minutes (No intermission! Score!) and despite the upfront admission that the ending is not happy, is pretty happy. I have to admit that after being told by Jones’ character that someone dies, I spent much of the show guessing who it’d be.

The score is great. There is LOTS of belting. It’s a great rock score, with just the right number of ballads to make sure you don’t get a headache from the volume. The lighting and staging is beautiful, and very creative. John Ellison Conlee was out, so Josh Tower covered for him; and he was great.

Jones’ character is mainly the narrator who breaks down the fourth wall from the very first note. I thought she was, of course, fantastic. And like in American Idiot she wears very little clothing the entire time. 

The show begins and ends in exactly the same, which is something I always love, because it gives you chills. Murder Ballad is eerier form start to finish, and it’s also quite amazing.

Murder Ballad is paying at the Union Square Theatre through July 21st. 

So, at the last minute, it was announced that Alysha Umphress was going to be a guest on Seth’s Chatterbox and about three hours before show time, it was announced that some of her co-stars would be joining her.  Tickets were listed on PlayByPlay, so I grabbed one, happy that I wouldn’t have to worry about the $25 cover charge (only the 2-drink-minimum).  I’ve only been to Seth’s Chatterbox once before and it was back in 2006 when Will Chase, et al were there during the brief run of Lennon.  I really dislike Don’t Tell Mama’s as a venue, but I stayed positive despite the over priced cherry Coke I was drinking.

Alysha Umphress was joined by her co-stars Christina Sajour, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Ben Thompson, as well as Seth Rudetsky, of course.  They discussed their most embarrassing audition horror stories (video coming!), what colleges they went to; Alysha told the story of Michael Mayer calling her at 1pm two Friday’s ago to comes fill in for Anika Noni Rose in On a Clear Day at Vassar, and how she went on at 8pm that night; they talked about the workshops of American Idiot and meeting Green Day for the first time.  Seth gave props for Prop 8 being repealed and congratulated Ben on his marriage.  

I’m sure I’m leaving out parts (of course I am), but overall it was a really enjoyable time and I’m really glad I went.  Two sodas only (!) ended up costing me $10.75 (wtf!).  

*Best part of the exchange last night: Seth asked, “So why do you have to get to the theatre so early?  Do you do prayer circle before hand?” They told him no, no, they do warm ups, and one of them goes, “No prayer time, we do FUCK TIME!” and Seth looks at them and says, “Excuse me?

I apologize for the crap-quality of my photos.  I guess while I’ve been trying to master my Canon D20, I’ve forgotten how to use my Powershot.  

‘American Idiot’s’ Rebecca Naomi Jones on Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong and Singing in Her Underwear (WSJ)

I love this article.  I’m not sure what I would do if I had to be in my underwear infront of 1100 people every night. 

‘American Idiot’s’ Rebecca Naomi Jones on Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong and Singing in Her Underwear (WSJ)