Sweat, by Lynn Nottage

A couple of weekends ago I saw SWEAT, the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Lynn Nottage, on Broadway. I had no idea what it was about but I’d heard everything from “weird” to “intense.” It was no at all what I was expecting. It was about a group of friends in the factor town of Reading, PA and how they’re adversely affected by NAFTA. Could it be more timely? I think not. Anyways, here’s my brain dump on it:

This piece reminded me a lot of Clyborne Park, probably because of the timeline of the plot. Clyborne Park took place in two different decades and although Sweat switched between past and present, both pieces used time jumps to show how things have declined in their respective neighborhoods.

Sweat was the perfect representation of racism in America, especially after there are layoffs and people who look like immigrants are hired because said-immigrants are desperate for higher paying jobs. The promotion of one of the African American member of the primary group of friends also brings out her friend’s true colors (“they get tax breaks because she’s a minority”).

The ensemble cast was ace, with not a weak link onstage from where I was sitting, and these characters go for a ride on a very emotional rollercoaster. Shitty acting would’ve made this unwatchable.

There’s excellent writing onstage at Studio 54 to bring to life something that’s very current. It’s over two hours, but it flies. It’s playing through June 4th.

She Loves Me @ Studio 54

A while back, I bought Hiptix for @endotique and I to see She Loves Me at Roundabout’s Studio 54 and finally on Wednesday it was the night. I knew nothing about the plot but I knew Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti were in it and that was good enough for me. Little did I know I was going to see You’ve Got Mail the Musical….

No, really. It was. It followed the plot to a T. Over all, I really liked She Loves Me. It was worth the two and a half hours alone just to see Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi onstage. I’m not a super fan of either, but both are abundantly talented and it’s so fun to watch, and listen, to them live.

Shows like this have a tendency to frustrate because you’re like, “OMG he’s the one you love!” And of course their character doesn’t know it. I found myself making comparisons the entire time to You’ve Got Mail. I’m not saying that was a good or bad; it just was a thing.

The company were all fantastic. The last time I saw Levi he was in the abysmal First Date, where he was wasting away on trite material, and he delighted me again this time, except with better material. He can dance, too. Who knew? Laura Benanti sings like a bird and she is beautiful. She sort of always plays the same kind of character onstage but at the very least, she’s good at it! So why mess with something if it’s not broken?

The only thing that had me looking at my playbill to see how much longer was left was the lack of AC in the rear mezz, but if you can brave the heat, or buy a ticket downstairs, you’ll be golden. She Loves Me is classic musical theatre and a good time – even for people, like me, who can almost never justify a two and a half hour musical.

I scored a comp to Roundabout’s production Therese Raquin, by Helen Edmundson, on Wednesday afternoon and I decided to go despite having no idea what about and having not really heard any super positive buzz about it. I like Kiera Knightley and I love Judith Light, so how bad could it be?

I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. Therese Raquin (Kiera Knightley) was about a 21-year-old girl in the mid-18th century in Paris. Raquin was orphaned and being raised by her aunt (Judith Light) and when Raquin and her cousin (Gabriel Ebert) are twenty-one, they oblige the aunt’s wishes to marry. Wouldn’t you be unhappy if he was coerced into marrying your cousin? Yeah.

What I didn’t expect was the thriller aspect of the play. The second act was the deterioration of Therese’s mental state as what her and her new husband (who’s also her former lover, played by Matt Ryan) did starts to haunt them. Knightley didn’t disappoint and was extremely impressive as Therese. Ebert, Light, and Ryan were also effective in their roles. Ebert’s portrayal of Camille, Therese’s cousin, reminded me of the his portrayal of Matilda’s father in Matilda

I never found myself bored or checking my watch during Therese Raquin. If you like a good thriller, it’s worth a trip to midtown. 

Cabaret, part deux… aka Cumming a Second Time.

On Saturday the 15th, Kristen and I went to see one of Emma Stone’s first shows as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I’d broken down and listened to a couple of MP3’s from her first performance and it was a bit shaky but it sounded like she had potential. 

Long story short: She blew us away. She had a totally fiesty, gritty, and strong take on the character which was very different than Michelle William’s. She was totally into and blowing the roof off the title number (Cabaret). She was just brilliant.

I’m going back to see her again soon.

Cumming was great too, as per usual. As was Danny Burstein and Linda Emond. They’re both just so fantastic. 

Like I said, Stone was amazing and I’m going to go see her again ASAP. 

I’d heard all good things about this revival of Cabaret so I was really thrilled to have the chance to see it a couple of weeks ago. I’d last seen it in 2003 when I was a senior in high school and Adam Pascal was starring as the Emcee. I found that cast a little lackluster. I love the music to Cabaret but the show is highly depressing. But to see Alan Cumming in the role that helped him rise to be the superstar he is today? Sign me up.

I could go on and on about how fantastic and surreal and life altering it is to see Cummings’ performance as the Emcee live onstage, but I won’t. If you haven’t seen him yet, you should, and if you have, you know what I’m talking about.

Michelle Williams gave a very performance as Sally Bowles. Her voice got the job done, and her performance during the song “Cabaret” was incredible. I’m very, very happy I got to see her.

Danny Burnstein was my other favorite as Herr Schultz. He’s always great and you empathized with him more and more as the show continued. Linda Emond was also great as his almost-wife, Fraulein Schenider.

Maybe it was because my seats were better this time than they had been previously, but I caught a lot of subtleties that I’d missed the last time. The show is still depressing as ever but it’s also fantastic. 

I already have tickets to see Emma Stone next month as Sally Bowles with @kmpilecki and I’m stoked. I’m still really glad I got to see this cast as well though.