Tradition. When it was first announced that Fiddler on the Roof was being revived, yet again, I was feeling lukewarm about it. Did we really need ANOTHER revival of this show?! 

Answer: Yes.

We needed THIS revival of Fiddler on the Roof. I was in the ensemble of Fiddler on the Roof at a community theatre in high school and I’d forgotten just how well I knew the show. I remembered probably 75% of the lyrics. There were songs that I’d forgotten were even in the score, but as soon as the music started, the lyrics would come rushing back. This show is a classic, and not in the so-classic-it-makes-me-want-to-hang-myself way The Music Man and Oklahoma are classic. But the good kind: the kind that makes memories rush back in. 

(It’s also especially relevant and timely to revive this now because of the current refugee crisis in the Middle East. But that’s for another post entirely.)

First things first: Danny Burstein is a national treasure. He’s great in whatever he does, we know this. He was marvelous in the revival of Cabaret and he’s even better in this. He gives it his all the entire time. It’s exhausting to watch. I also loved Alexandra Silber as Tzeitel. And Jessica Hecht poured her heart and soul into Golde. Oh, and Alix Korey: Oh, Alix Korey. How I’ve missed this woman. She was perfect as Yente. 

The entire company looks like they’re having the time of their lives onstage and their energy floods the audience. The show is somber and the last sequence is 100% depressing but when it’s not intentionally depressing, it’s exquisite. The direction and sets and lighting are all excellent. The choreography is WONDERFUL. A lot of it felt very familiar but new at the same time. 

Fiddler clocks in at minutes under 3 hours, but it never felt long. At all. Had I known how great this revival is, I wouldn’t have waited 6 months to see it. 

Get thee to the Broadway Theatre. 

Theatre Date With Myself, Part Two

On Tuesday night I took myself to see Ivan van Hove’s revival of The Crucible (again via TDF). I had never seen The Crucible onstage and I was super excited. Seeing Ciaran Hinds (Gov. Danforth) and Tavi Gevinson (Mary Warren) was just the icing on the cake. I remembered the basic plot – McCarthism masquerading as the Salem Witch Trials – but once the action started, all of the dialogue started flooding back into my memory.

The production is flawless. A very minimal set. Beautiful lighting. It was truly mind blowing how 70+ people were accused of witch craft by five girls who were faking it and they turn Salem upside down. 

Gevinson was excellent – a total 180* from This Is Our Youth. Sophie Okonedo (Elizabeth Proctor) and Ben Whishaw (John Proctor) had great chemistry together. Jim Norton (Giles Corey) was subtly funny and heart breaking as always. It was really a treat to see Jim Norton and Ciaran Hinds onstage together again – I was such a big fan of The Seafarer in 2008. I could list the rest of the cast because they were all excellent, but I won’t. You can check them out here if you’re interested. 

Like I said, I have nothing to compare this production to but this three hour production never dragged and it didn’t feel long for one minute. If you have three hours to kill, get thee to the Walter Kerr. 

Chipping away

I’m slowly chipping away at my list. 

Tuck Everlasting was on Saturday (review to come). Waitress is on May 18th. Today I bought a ticket on TDF to The Crucible for tomorrow (Tuesday) night and then I bought two more tickets for @endotique and I see to see The Color Purple on May 17th. 

What’s left: Bright Star, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Fiddler on the Roof, and Blackbird. Possibly Fully Committed and She Loves Me, too. 

Noises Off

I knew Noises Off was a comedy. I remembered when Peter Gallagher was in the last revival in the early 2000′s, but I had no idea how slap-stick it was. I was excited to see this revival because: Tracee Chimo, Rob McClure, and even Megan Hilty. 

The set rotated and was pretty remarkable. Megan Hilty has become an amazing actress since her Wicked days. Rob McClure is better than ever. Tracee Chimo is frumpy and entertaining. The entire cast is ace: you have to be to perform such a cheesy, comedic script.

I started the first act thinking it was going to be one long night of stupidity, but by the end of act 3 (yes, act 3), I could’ve laughed myself to an early death. (Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but you get it.)

The expertly choreographed physical comedy alone is enough of a reason to buy a ticket. 

Two Saturdays ago I was able to score extremely-cheap-practically-free tickets to The Gin Game. I thought it was a great primer before seeing the new Star Wars movie – it was the voice of Darth Vadar! On stage! I made the cheesy request to go to Bourbon Street on Restaurant Row beforehand and my dude obliged. I had very little idea what The Gin Game was about – though I assumed it was probably about gin rummy – but it didn’t matter. It was James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson onstage! Two of the oldest people still acting, I think. (Probably not, but let’s just go with it.) And they’re both still amazing. You know what else was amazing? Our seats. Fifth row, orchestra, dead center. I could’ve touched James Earl Jones with my lightsaber (if i owned one). 

About a pair of senior citizens living in a rather depressing retirement home in the south, the script is essentially just the two of them playing game after game of gin rummy. Tyson wins every single time, after two or three plays – sometimes five, if Jones is lucky. My boyfriend had semi-jokingly said beforehand, “I just want to see Darth Vadar swear for an hour and a half.” Well, he got what he wanted. His character had quite the temper and he swore and threw things around, a lot. 

It gets really dark and I ended up really feeling badly for the both of them. They’re both fantastic – duh. It was an odd and unexpected play, but highly entertaining. 

Sylvia

Last Friday I went to see Sylvia, the new play about a man and his dog. I’d heard Annaleigh Ashford was killing it and I expected nothing more than a performance of a bored fish from Matthew Broderick, because let’s be honest: phoning it in is what he does best nowadays. Love him, but it might be time to retire now. 

Ashford brilliant portrays a poodle found wandering around Central Park who is adopted by the meek and equally as lost Greg (Broderick). Greg’s wife Kate (the marvelous Julie White) is bordering on fuming when he brings Sylvia home. Greg is warned by a fellow dog owner (played by Robert Sella, who plays multiple roles throughout the night) to get ready for trouble with his wife because his wife doesn’t want a dog and because it has a human name (which has some kind of psychological effect on a person). The premonition comes true but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending

Robert Sella, killing it in front of my eyes since at least 2005, was perfect in his many roles that night. He’s a brilliant comedic actor. Julie White, another favorite of mine, although not at her funniest, got lots of laughs (not her fault, but not every script can be Little Dog Laughed-level of comedic brilliance). 

I actually thought Broderick was kind of adorable. He still used that same, sort of annoying, whoa-is-me Charlie Brown voice, but it kind of worked. 

The star of the night was, of course, Ashford. She saved the revival of Rent as Maureen and I don’t think she’ll ever disappoint. She is one of the great character actors of my generation. Her physicality as a dog was perfect. I really have nothing else to say expect: perfect. And: hilarious.

It dragged a bit and it could easily be shaved down to an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission, but nevertheless, if you have a free night, go laugh out loud at Ashford. 

Last Saturday I saw Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love at MTC’s Samuel Friedman Theatre. Frankly, I went because Nina Arianda is amazing, and so is Sam Rockwell. I was obsessed with Shepard’s Buried Child in college, but it was pretty absurd and took a lot of studying to process even a little bit, so I knew this play would probably little to no sense at a first glance. And it didn’t. And that’s OK. It’s basically about a couple who have been on and off and about 15 years going at it again and we get to watch it go down for 75 minutes. 

Arianda is amazing in anything and everything she does, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as amazed with her performance as I was in Born Yesterday or Venus in Fur (this is also OK). Her timing and nuance is impeccable. Sam Rockwell is great. As always. He’s so funny. He is ridiculous in a cowboy hat and holding a lasso, but he got the job done regardless. 

I wouldn’t go see Fool For Love again, but I’m glad I saw it once. 

A Little Pinter on a Friday Night

I was asked to administer a survey for The League on Friday night and I was eager to see Clive Owen onstage so off I went. I knew nothing about Old Times, but as soon as I realized it was by Harold Pinter, I knew it’d be pretty incoherent. I have somewhat of an understanding of The Homecoming but I’m quite sure that’s because I studied it in at least a couple of classes in high school/college. I heard it was about a couple and an old friend that they haven’t seen in a long time coming to visit. I knew things would get messy.

Kate (Kelly Reilly) and Deeley (Clive Owen) are a couple living outside London and when Kate’s dear old friend, Anna (Eve Best), comes to visit, she turns the clock back for Deeley. 

Clive Owen, whom I love so much from the movie Closer, was great onstage. Kelly Reilly did her best, but I think her character was more annoying than anything else so that’s maybe why I couldn’t stand her. Eve Best, it must be said, did an excellent job with the material she was given.

Pinter is so incomprehensible, or maybe it’s just me. It was an interesting 65 minutes (no intermission!) for sure. 

I realized I never wrote about seeing the revival of Spring Awakening before I went away. I was under the impression that this production was going to open, be a hit, and sell out it’s short production, so I wanted to see it before I went away. I was so, so excited, yet skeptical, about this revival. I loved the original production so much. I love the score so much. This production was going to be completely different, but I knew that going in. It had a very Once-feel to it when we walked in because the cast was warming up onstage in costume. This is great as I really loved Once, but this wasn’t Once. I missed seeing the bleachers onstage. We were in the first row of the rear mezzanine (thanks, TDF!) and the seats were just fine. The always-excellent Patrick Page, as the adult man, walked by us telling us to quiet down so the show could start, and Marlee Matlin (who apparently is a big deal but I’m unfamiliar with her) walked around in the orchestra doing the same. And the lights went down.

The ASL aspect of this show was a neat addition. It was really affective that Wendla and Moritz had no voices so you could say their lack of ability to speak lead to both of their demises. Maybe that’s stretching. The set felt like they took remnants of Taboo and Rent, fine. The lighting had the same feel.

I’m in the minority but I really ended up missing the original production. This production had the same feel throughout, there was no juxtaposition between the book scenes and the songs. What really helped make that change harsh in the original production was the use of the microphones. For 99% of the revival, there were no microphones. You didn’t get that the characters were singing as their 21st century counterparts (which is, I believe, what the original production intended to do).

It’s still a fine production. It still has a gorgeous score. My favorites, cast-wise, was Sean Grandillo as Otto, Alex Wyse as George, and Katie Boeck as Wendla, and an honorable mention should go to Krysta Rodriguez as Isle. If you know her backstory, it was a bit more meaningful to watch her up there.

If you’ve never seen Spring Awakening, this production is definitely worth your time. It’s playing through January 24th.

That’s me deep in conversation with world-famous playwright Henrik Ibsen outside his apartment in Oslo, Norway. And since I know you’re all (not) dying to know what I’m dying to see during the Broadway season that started (in September), here goes:

Hamilton: No, I haven’t run to see it yet. Lin-Manuel Miranda is fine and dandy, but I’m not a super-fan of his. I’ll see it at some point. It’s not going anywhere. I’m sure it’s great.

The Crucible: Classic Arthur Miller with Ciaran Hinds, Jim Norton, and Tavi Gevinson? Sigh me up.

Fool For Love: I love both Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell so I’m THERE. I’ll be buying 30-under-30 tickets as soon as I can drag my lazy butt to the box office.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: YES, YES, YES. I’ve never seen this staged professionally but I worked on it in college and it’s Eugene O’Neil and it’s great. And there’s John Gallagher Jr.! What’s not to be excited about?

Noises Off: Two words: Tracee Chimo. Enough said. Oh, and Rob McClure.

School of Rock: This could be a good adaptation or it could be awful. I hope it’s good. 

She Loves You: I’ve never seen this show or heard the score so I’m very interested. And the cast is great: Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, etc?

Tuck Everlasting: I’ve never seen this movie but it has an awesome cast. Terrance Mann back on Broadway!

A View From the Bridge: More Arthur Miller! I missed the last production, so maybe I’ll actually make it to this one.

Waitress: So, four new musicals on Broadway this season? Sad.com. I’ve heard lots of hype but really, um, maybe? I’ve never seen the movie, but the plot sounds basic. Jessie Mueller is awesome, soo… maybe? I don’t have much of an opinion on this. But if I get a free or cheap ticket, I’d totally go.