Almost Christmas-For-Theatre-Nerds

The TONY Awards are tomorrow. That’s why I have a picture below of my cat, Playbill, laying on a TONY Awards tote bag that I got years ago at an afterparty. She’s still wondering why she hasn’t been formally invited. She’s always in black tie attire, right?

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I celebrated Theatre Nerd Christmas almost arriving today with a TONY Awards-themed 60 minute Flywheel ride at the Lincoln Square Flywheel, set to all kinds of show tunes. It’s how all rides should be. It was amazing. One of the actresses from Oslo even came by in between her matinee and evening show to ride, which is AMAZING and insane at the same time.

I sort of feel very removed from the TONYs this year, given that I haven’t seen Dear Evan Hansen yet, and that’s supposed to take home the big award of the night. My greatest hope for tomorrow night would be for the Best Musical award to go to Come From Away, inspiring one of the biggest upsets since 2004.  I loved Come From Away and I think it is so timely. But I think Dear Evan Hansen will probably win because the TONYs are usually predictable and boring. That said, here’s who I want to win and who I think will win:

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Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

This musical has seen many stagings: Ars Nova (more of a reading, really), Kazino in the meatpacking district), a lot on 8th avenue, ART in Boston. And now it’s finally, finally on Broadway. Cheap tickets have been hard to find so Kristen and I jumped on $40 tickets that NYU offered her for a student night recently. We found out Josh Groban was out when we arrived but quite honestly, I didn’t care. Josh Groban is really just a non-theatrical version of Josh Young anyways, right? Right.

I sort of remembered the story when I saw The Great Comet in 2013 and Kristen had read the book, so we had an idea of what was going on. 

Let me start by saying that the star of this production is not anyone on the stage, it is the stage, and theatre, itself. I would love to see the budget for the theatre renovation because it is spectacular. In this new staging, they tried as hard as they possibly could to not let the show get lost in the space. They made as many opportunities as possible to get the actors mingling with the audience.

And you definitely want this cast to mingle with you. They are fierce. A lot of them are from the 2013 production and they are all so very talented. Lucas Steele was out, but I think I enjoyed his understudy, Josh Canfield, even more as the pompous asshole Anatole. Scott Stangland was on as Pierre for Josh Groban and he gave a lovely, really nuanced performance.  

The story is kind of ridiculous, though. Natasha meets Anatole and falls for him immediately, not seeing that he’s a complete douche? Come on. And the ‘Great Comet’ is mentioned only in the last 15 seconds of the show. It’s kind of ridiculous. There’s also a LOT going on – because it’s a Russian novel, so, yeah: dense. But as hard as they try, the show gets lost in a theatre as “big” as the Imperial. We sat in the front-rear mezzanine for the first act and it fell flat. When we moved down the second row of the front mezzanine, it became a little bit more exciting.

To that end: this show is beautiful, as is the cast and the score. I just wish it were in a different theatre.

New York’s immersive theater scene has outdone themselves yet again. I was offered a ticket to The Queen of the Night last week and immediately jumped. Think Nutcracker Rouge meets The Great Comet of 1812 minus the literary source and Christmas. That’s what The Queen of the Night is. Or in other words: it’s a super erotica circus with a few dance breaks.

The entire night lasts about 3 hours. There’s about an hour of pre-show where you’re encouraged to go just walk around the space and explore, and if you’re lucky a cast member will pull you away and show you something neat that you hadn’t yet discovered. Some people were whisked away to meet the Queen who was standing on the stage for most of the pre-show. 

Once the show begins, all of the chairs that are messily piled onstage are ripped down and put around the tables that are scattered around the stage. I had been told to sit at a certain table by a cast member, so like an obedient audience member, I listened. 

After the story is introduced and there’s some impressive stuff onstage, they bring out huge platters of food that includes lobster, a rack of ribs, a full roast pig, potatoes gratin, kale salad, bone marrow, and of course, wine. Oh, and two vegetarian options which were roasted cauliflower and some mushroom dish that I didn’t try. We were served the rack of ribs at first but then encouraged to go to other tables to try what they had. Such a cool idea! Definitely a way to make the audience socialize.

After eating and another section of the show is performed, the cast rolls out huge white containers and tells us to throw out plates and everything on the table in them. That’s one way for a quick clean up!

Just so you know: You will get felt up, kissed, fed, and used (in the show).  I was singled out to be the girl who refuses the crazy character’s proposal for a happy ending with him (as in marriage, not an orgasm). I won’t lie – I loved the moment that we had in the spotlight. And then we danced again at the end of the show. I’m glad i listened to that one cast member on where to sit!

After the two main couples of the night get together and all is well, everyone dances (including the audience) and then cast members are lined up in various spots around the nightclub with lots of spoons and the most decadent chocolate cake you’ve ever tasted. As evident in the above photo, they feed it to you.

This is definitely more fun than Sleep No More, though the story is less clear than The Great Comet of 1812, and it’s definitely more immersive (and invasive!) than Here Lies Love (and twice as long). This probably ties with Here Lies Love – I love the historical aspects and music of Here Lies Love but who doesn’t love a free meal with their erotic circus acts? 

This is a definite New York experience to be had if you can deal with being touched by more strangers in one night than ever before. Tickets are not cheap but they’re definitely worth the price.

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