Drama School 101: Read the Fucking Play

I never made it to Shakespeare in the Park last year. I don’t know why but the entire season just flew by before I could decide whether or not to go line up one morning. And truth be told, their current (well, it’s closing tonight) production of Julius Caesar almost did, too. Julius Caesar isn’t one of my favorites and I didn’t think there was anyone in it of note. THEN the media on the right started kicking and screaming like the little snowflakes that they are and I was like, “OKAY, I’VE GOTTA SEE THIS.” I tried playing the lottery via TodayTix all week and finally had last night free and decided to take a little sign down to the Public and try to get a ticket.

When I asked where the stand-by line was, they said there wasn’t any because the show was sold out. So silly. There are always extra tickets. Anyways, there were already protesters there (protesting IN favor) when I arrive at 5:15pm and it only grew while I waited with my little sign (almost getting ticketed, multiple times, because apparently you’re not allowed to “solicit” in Central Park. Sorry, dudes, I just wanted a ticket, not soliciting for sex).  I read Imogen Lloyd-Webber’s, “The Intelligent Conversationalist” while I waited and watched the cops arrive as the counter protests (pro-Trump, anti-production) arrived – two old, white senior citizens – and the barricades went up. There was a blonde girl protesting in support of the production screaming her head off. I wanted to tell her to STFU because she was our side look bad because she looked like a lunatic, but I decided not to.

Around 7:10pm, a woman around my age was walking by when she saw my sign and said, “Oh, I think I might have an extra ticket. I don’t think my friend is coming, hold on.” And after she went to the box office, another guy came up to me and said he might have an extra one, as well. The woman came back first, and I gave my sign to another guy who was waiting around for a ticket (who I think was given the ticket that the second person who approached me had. Yay, teamwork). I grabbed a chicken wrap and a beer from the concession stand, watched some more of the protest, and then took my seat.

The audience was allowed onstage, to sign banners, and it was all pretty awesome. Then at 8:10, Oskar Eustis’ voice came on the PA system and told us about who was sponsoring the show, and added that despite his statement in the program, there was one line that was changed and we’d all know what it was when it came. AHHHH.

Continue reading “Drama School 101: Read the Fucking Play”

You know you’ve made it in New York when you can go see Shakespeare in the Park without having to wait in line. Something like that. My friend texted me two Wednesdays ago saying she had two tickets to Much Ado About Nothing and I canceled my plans to go to yoga and immediately headed to the park after work.

I’d really wanted to see this because of Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. Because, duh, they’re fabulous. I hadn’t seen Much Ado since I was in 5th grade and saw my high school’s production, but got the gist from reading a brief synopsis before the show that night – love triangles, tricks, and all of that. Great, so basically your typical Shakespearian comedy. To be honest, I’m a much bigger fan of Shakespeare’s dramas and tragedies than I am of his comedies. But this is Shakespeare in the Park. And it’s free. And it’s a New York tradition. It’s my tradition. There was no way I wasn’t seeing it.

Linklater and Rabe made the show for me. They were both absolutely brilliant. Brian Stokes Mitchell was miscast as Don Pedro and I barely noticed when he was onstage (and that’s saying something). There were really no weak links in this, but Linklater and Rabe just made this so-so comedy of Shakespeare’s that much better to watch.

Much Ado About Nothing plays through July 6th, so this is your last week. Get thee to the Delacorte!

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. 

And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.

Into the Woods is in my top-3 favorite Sondheim musicals. I was mildly enthralled with the last revival of Into the Woods in 2002. I also had a minor crush on the actor who played Jack. I saw that revival twice and memorized the words when the cast recording was released. Was it the best production ever? Probably not, but it did the trick to spark my interest in the show. When I heard it was going to be one of the shows at Shakespeare in the Park this year, I knew I wanted to see it. After the cast was announced, I knew tickets would be hard to get and after a good two weeks of playing the virtual lotto, my friend Kristen and I gave up and I volunteered to get to the park way-too-early so we could secure tickets.

We’d last waited in line together to get tickets to the 40th anniversary stage of HAIR at the Delacorte in 2007, until to last weekend. I said I’d get there at 6am and she could meet me whenever (as she lives a tad further away now).  And of course in true Public Theater tradition when I woke up last Saturday at 5, it was pouring (like last time). I grabbed my huge blue and white umbrella, a straw sun mat to sit on, some sustenance, and a fully charged cell phone and headed out.

I was 75-100th on the line but an employee from the Public assured us that we were fine and getting tickets. I slept for maybe half an hour, played around on my cell phone and watched as my yoga pants became increasingly soiled with sand and dirt. There were a few more showers, including one huge downpour. Kristen met me around 10:30 and told me to go home to change out of my soaked, dirty clothes (a command that I happily obeyed). The line grew and grew and the end was nowhere in sight around 12pm. We were eventually told to stand and we got our tickets (after which we hopped on the subway down to Second Stage to see if we could get tickets to Dogfight – score!).  Fast forward to 7:15-ish and we take our time walking to the Delacorte, grabbing sandwiches at the theatre’s cafe once we’d arrived (AWESOME sandwiches btw).


We were both exhausted from the day but totally stoked to see what we’d heard was an innovative production. The weather was perfect and the sun was beginning to set behind Belvedere Castle. James Earl Jone’s voice bellowed from the speakers, thanking their donors, and the little boy came downstage and dumped his backpack out to begin the show.

The set was incredible (as you can see above). It was one of my favorite parts of the show. Morgan James had it all wrong when she said musicianship was dead because of this production. Dead wrong. The orchestra sounded beautiful, as did the voices. The lighting was perfect, and I especially enjoyed the way in which they created the giant in the trees.

I was excited to see the wonderful Denis O’Hare as the baker, and he was as impressive as expected. Donna Murphy, as the Witch, blew me away with her interpretation and voice. I was skeptical of Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife as I’d heard mixed things about her, but I was fully impressed equally by her acting and her voice. There may have been a high note or two that she couldn’t sustain, but overall, she was very good. Ivan Hernandez was insanely entertaining as the Wolf (also as Cinderella’s Prince, but more so as the Wolf), and his interpretation of the Wolf was intensely sexual. Lest we forget Chip Zien, as the Mysterious Man, who starred in the original Broadway production as the baker. He’s a brilliantly hilarious actor and he brought everything he had to his role.

My favorite re-interpretation of a character was provided by Sarah Stiles, as Little Red Ridinghood. She was equal parts playful, smart, edgy, obnoxious, and sexual (when it came to the Wolf). Her voice was great also, and I loved her costume (it could best be described as a mix between a traditional Little Red and Leaf Coneybear from Spelling Bee).

Honorable mentions must be made for Gideon Glick, as Jack, who was entertaining and endearing in his portrayal, and Jessie Mueller, as Cinderella, who really does have the beautiful voice that everyone said was the only reason to see On A Clear Day.

Into the Woods was three hours long, but it certainly didn’t feel like three hours. I left the theatre feeling satisfied and happy. Another magical, perfect night at the Delacorte completed. As we exited the park at 11pm, people were already lined up for the next night’s performance. Luckily for them, it wasn’t supposed to rain that night.

Memories: Shakespeare in the Park Rush Lines of the Past

There are certain theatrical events that are worth a good 12 hours on the street. This is one of them.

The last time I’d waited on an early morning line for tickets to a show was at the Public was probably 2007. Long before a HAIR revival was a glimmer in any producer’s eye, The Public presented a one-weekend only staged concert production of it in honor of its 40th anniversary. I love HAIR more than my friends (I kid, but you get the point) and I’d yet to see a professional production of it, so this was a must-see. It was also high on the priorities list for my friend Kristen who was matriculating at NYU not far from the Public at the time. I remember getting a call from Kristen around 10:30pm the night before the concert and her saying, “people are already at the Public,” and all I could reply was, “see you by eleven!” and hung up. I was living in FiDi so I packed a bag and met up with her where we chatted, slept or stayed caffeinated, ate, and played card games as the hours ticked by.

About 30 minutes before tickets were given out, the sky opened up and it not only rained, it poured. It was a little annoying, but mostly magical. Here’s photo evidence:


We went home, drenched, but with tickets in hand.

We toasted with the friends we’d made in line in front of us around noon. It was brunch time soon anyways, right?

The concert was, obviously, worth every second on the street that night. And the next summer it came back, and that season HAIR was back on Broadway.

So last week after a gut-wrenching lovely meal at UNO’s (it was Matt’s idea) on Columbus Avenue, Matt and I made our way over to the Delacorte Theatre to see A Winter’s Tale, the less popular of the two productions in Shakespeare in the Park this season (though the reviews would show that it’s the more impressive of the two by far). 

In the cast were such names as Jesse L. Martin and Jesse Tyler Fergeson (okay, so they aren’t really names unless you’re a theatre geek) but the ensemble overall was immensely talented.  I’d never seen A Winter’s Tale before so I was excited. 

A Winter’s Tale tells the story of a king, Leontes, who becomes convinced that his wife, Hermione, is cheating on him with Polixiene, another king, and banishes her from the kingdom.  Leontes tells Antigonus to abandon Hermione’s newly born daughter on the shore.  Luckily, the baby (named Perdita) is found by a sherperd who raises her for the next sixteen years.  Polixienne’s son falls in love with Perdita and protests from the parents ensues because they are all unaware of her royal background.

Being that this was my first time seeing A Winter’s Tale, I definitely missed a few things but because Shakespeare was such a genius writer, I got the gist of the plot (though I could’ve definitely used a second viewing).  The set was fantastic because instead of having a huge backdrop as Shakespeare in the Park so often uses, they let the castle in Central Park be part of the scene and it was perfect since the play takes place in a kingdom.

Costumes, sets, lighting (helped largely by the setting sun, which as always was perfect) were all simple yet beautiful.  Jesse Tyler Ferguson played the same goofy character that he always seems to play (but as always, he did it well).  Jesse L. Martin was honest and sincere as Polixienne.  Linda Emond (Hermoine), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Leontes), and Heather Lind (Perdita) were perfectly cast, too. 

Shakespeare in the Park has put together another perfectly executed production this summer, and as always, it’s sad to see it another season come to a close this weekend.