Pizza and Shakespeare

A couple of weeks back, my friend Andrew (who I met years back because of his enthusiasm for Green Day and goes to as many concerts a week as I do shows) and I hopped on a MetroNorth train up to New Haven to see a matinee of These Paper Bullets. Shakespeare and music by Billie Joe Armstrong? Consider me there. But before the show, there were two must-haves: Frank Pepe’s and cannolis. We had both (well, we saved the cannolis for the ride home but whatever) plus the most delicious $1.75/pint beer (it was basically PBR, but Italian, so much classier):

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We ate all of that. It was delicious. There were no regrets.

It had started pouring in New Haven literally the second that we stepped out of the train station, but we put up our hoods and umbrellas and walked over the Yale Rep to pick up our tickets and wait for the show to begin.

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I liked the show. I didn’t love it. The music was all very Beatles-esque and catchy, and thus good, but I wanted more of it. The creative team is very spot-on with not wanting to call this a musical, but more of a play with music. The cast, which included the fabulous Stephen DeRosa and the brooding David Wilson Barnes, was great. Very solid acting chops all around.

My only critique of the show was that it could’ve been just as good if it was a solid 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. I know they were trying to update Much Ado About Nothing scene by scene, but large parts dragged and were unnecessary. They had a talkback afterwards and it was cool to hear about how the show came together.

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I was shocked at how little I knew about the cast beforehand and how many of the cast members I’d before in shows in New York. Love out of town try-outs. Unfortunately we missed the earlier train back though and had to wait around for one an hour later. Worry not though, we had cannolis to keep us company.

These Paper Bullets was entertaining and a ton of fun, but I’m not sure it’ll have a life after Yale Rep. Who knows though!

A Day Trip to Princeton

I ventured with my friend Matt out to Princeton, New Jersey on Sunday to see Sleeping Beauty Wakes at the McCarter Theatre.  It was my first time to both Princeton and the McCarter and I was excited for both.  An easy 90 minute train ride to Princeton Junction and a quick five minute trip on the Dinky to the town of Princeton and we were there.  

We stopped first at Small World Coffee, which we’d been informed was the best in town, and it was pretty good!  There were tons of students studying and typing away on laptops and they seem to have created a pretty cool little spot to sneak away to when you need to just unwind or type a paper.  I almost tried the vegan moonpie, which looked amazing, but I wasn’t very hungry so I decided against it.  

Next time, I guess!  We cut through the gorgeous Princeton campus on our way back to the McCarter.  It’s one gorgeous building after another.  (For a minute I’d regretted my decision to never aim high enough in high school to go to an Ivy League school, but when snapped back to reality, I got over it really quickly.)

I’d heard about Sleeping Beauty Wakes when Aspen Vincent departed American Idiot to take on the title role, and later I learned that Bryce Ryness (Hair, See Rock City) and Donna Vivino (original Young Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway) were also in the cast.  I’d been informed that SBW was the staging of a concept album by the group Groovelily, who occasionally tour and have played several times at Ars Nova, although I’d never heard any of their material before.  

SBW takes place is a sleep study facility that’s turned upside-down when a father, Mr. King (Bob Stillman), arrives with his daughter, Rose (Aspen Vincent), in his arms who refuses to wake up.  Mike (Bryce Ryness), an orderly in the facility, suffers from a few disorders of his own, and ends up meeting Rose in his dreams.  Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone) is the doctor studying the other patients in the facility (Vivino, Steve Judkins, Adinah Alexander, and Jimmy Ray Bennett) and occasionally provides comic relief.  Mike and Rose fall in love, eventually, this is a fairy tale after all and most live happily ever after.

Vincent has a number of good songs including Good For Me and Awake (which also includes Ryness), but each song is equally well written and easy on the ear.  The cast was exceptionally talented.  In two acts and just over two hours long, SBW never drags or feels long.  

Afterward we headed back down the campus to Teresa’s, a small Italian restaurant that a colleague of mine had recommended earlier in the week.  We split the mozzarella and prosciutto appetizer, had a few drinks, and entrees.  All were delicious and really reasonably priced.  We strolled through the town and campus once more before catch the train back in Penn Station where we arrived back at about 7:30.  

Whenever I’m traveling out of town to see a new musical, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get.  I am thrilled to be able to say that Sleeping Beauty Wakes was definitely worth the 90-minute trip down to Princeton.  

Sleeping Beauty Wakes is playing at the McCarter Theatre through June 5th.  For more information visit their website.