In between marching up Broadway and rallying in Times Square on Saturday, I stopped by the Vineyard Theatre with a friend to see Nicky Silver’s new play, The Lyons.  Of course I was drawn to the show because of Michael Esper, but also because the Vineyard is a solid theatre company that I’ve been a fan of since 2004.  

The Lyons beings in the hospital room of a man (played by the incomparable Dick Latessa) dying from cancer and his wife (hilariously played by Linda Lavin), who is trying to decide how to re-decorate their living room even though, as Lavin says, her husband “won’t be around to see it.”  Eventually their two children (Michael Esper and Kate Jennings Grant) arrive and are told the news that their father is dying.  Secrets are revealed, family members are betrayed, and in a shocking turn of events, Lavin has some pretty big news for her children the week after their father dies.  

Some theatre fans could have their dreams fulfilled after The Lyons when they’ve finally heard Latessa exclaim, “motherfucker!” multiple times. The first rate cast gives solid performances all around.  I always love watching Michael Esper in whatever role he takes on, but he was especially breaking in Act 2 of The Lyons.  I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but The Lyons is definitely worth a viewing.  

The Lyons is playing at the Vineyard Theatre on East 15th Street through November 20th. Click here for more information.

(photo via)

“Interviewing the Audience”

Last Friday I decided to see Vineyard Theatre’s “Interviewing the Audience” after having read it’s description and thought it sounded interesting.  The basis of the show was exactly what it sounds like – Zach Helm interviewed members of the audience during the 70 minute time frame.  Helm had been inspired to bring the show to New York after having seen the original incarnation of it by Spaulding Gray while he was in college in 1997.  

He brought up a mid-twenties male, a white haired woman in her 50’s, and a guy who looked like he was in his late-twenties during the night and he asked them all the same first question – “How did you wind up at this show tonight?” and proceeded a 20-25 minute conversation with each of them.  At the end of the night he determined that they’d found a common theme in something that each of their mother’s had given them, and not just materialistically but more along the lines of “she gave me the chance to land on my feet.”  After the three interviews were over, Helm encouraged to the audience to stay in the theatre or the lobby and talk to someone who they didn’t know.

It was a really unique night at the theatre, and I definitely want to go back in a few weeks and see what a different night is like.  

Interviewing the Audience plays at the Vineyard Theatre through February 27th.  

And lastly (yes, I promise!), a few of my favorite off-Broadway Playbills.  Looking through my collection, I was really proud of all the random stuff I’ve seen (L-R):

  • SLUT! the Musical: This musical was hilarious and starred Andy Karl and Mary Faber (before she was an Idiot).  
  • The Overwhelmed – at Roundabout which starred Michael Stahl-David, who later went on to star in Cloverfield.  
  • suBurbia – the revival at Second Stage which starred Kieran Culkin (as well as Michael Esper – though I totally don’t remember him in it!), and a bunch of extremely talented 20 something actors.
  • The Atheist – I went to see this solely because Chris Pine was starring.  It was a one man show and I thought he did a fantastic job.  
  • Spring Awakening – off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company in 2006.  We sat onstage and it was well, interesting to say the least.  I didn’t love it after the first act (I hated the microphones) but I got more into it in the second act.  Off-Broadway, John Gallagher Jr. made his entrance by popping out of the seat that was right next to my friend’s seat.  We both screamed when he popped up!
  • Distracted – starring Cynthia Nixon at Roundabout.  This was a play about a mother who battles with whether or not she should be medicating her child after he is diagnosed with ADD.  Nixon is a truly fantastic actress onstage and on-screen.
  • After Ashley – my first play at the Vineyard about the exploitation of tragedy in the 21st century, starring Dennis Hopper, Kieran Culkin, and Anna Paquin.  
  • Some Americans Abroad – about a school group abroad in London.  I went to see it solely because Anthony Rapp was in it.  
  • Walmartopia – I included this because it remains the ONLY show I’ve ever walked out of during intermission.  It was just that bad.  
  • Next to Normal at Second Stage.  To say the show was in shambles and way too long is an understatement.  The second act felt like it was 3 hours long.  It had some good moments but they definitely cleaned it up for the better.
  • Port Authority at Atlantic Theatre Company that starred John Gallagher Jr., Brian Darcy James, and Jim Norton.  It was… interesting.  I could’ve used a second viewing.  
  • Stuff Happens at the Public Theatre.  This was a play written by David O’Hare about the events after 9/11 that lead to the Iraq War.  The title comes from when Dick Cheney was quoted as saying “stuff happens!” in response to a question about a tragedy happening.  I loved this.