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”

When Hamlet in Bed, a newest work currently being performed at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, got a great write up in Time Out New York, I decided, what the hell, and I went to see it. Time Out is pretty much where I go for all of my off-Broadway recs (besides friends). I thought it would be a reinterpretation of Hamlet but I was completely off base. 

Hamlet in Bed was about a mother and son who didn’t know it. Michael Laurence, the star and playwright, played Michael, an actor and orphan, who has an obsession with Hamlet (the play) and is sold the journal of a woman, Ana (played by Annette O’Toole), who Ophelia in 1975. The journal ends with an entry saying that her son was born on the day that happens to be his birthday and she gave him up for adoption.

He finds her and casts her as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, in his adaptation of Hamlet called Hamlet in Bed. The play is dark and twisted, and a bit confusing. Ana has a hallucination (of sorts) once Michael tells her who he is after three weeks of deceiving her.

Hamlet in Bed is a quick 90 minutes and it’s interesting and eerie, especially if you know Hamlet. If you like off the beaten path theatre, head downtown and check it out.

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!

Pizza and Shakespeare

A couple of weeks back, my friend Andrew (who I met years back because of his enthusiasm for Green Day and goes to as many concerts a week as I do shows) and I hopped on a MetroNorth train up to New Haven to see a matinee of These Paper Bullets. Shakespeare and music by Billie Joe Armstrong? Consider me there. But before the show, there were two must-haves: Frank Pepe’s and cannolis. We had both (well, we saved the cannolis for the ride home but whatever) plus the most delicious $1.75/pint beer (it was basically PBR, but Italian, so much classier):

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We ate all of that. It was delicious. There were no regrets.

It had started pouring in New Haven literally the second that we stepped out of the train station, but we put up our hoods and umbrellas and walked over the Yale Rep to pick up our tickets and wait for the show to begin.

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I liked the show. I didn’t love it. The music was all very Beatles-esque and catchy, and thus good, but I wanted more of it. The creative team is very spot-on with not wanting to call this a musical, but more of a play with music. The cast, which included the fabulous Stephen DeRosa and the brooding David Wilson Barnes, was great. Very solid acting chops all around.

My only critique of the show was that it could’ve been just as good if it was a solid 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. I know they were trying to update Much Ado About Nothing scene by scene, but large parts dragged and were unnecessary. They had a talkback afterwards and it was cool to hear about how the show came together.

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I was shocked at how little I knew about the cast beforehand and how many of the cast members I’d before in shows in New York. Love out of town try-outs. Unfortunately we missed the earlier train back though and had to wait around for one an hour later. Worry not though, we had cannolis to keep us company.

These Paper Bullets was entertaining and a ton of fun, but I’m not sure it’ll have a life after Yale Rep. Who knows though!

As you may or may not have known, the fall revival of Romeo and Juliet, staring Orlando Bloom and  Condola Rashad, was filmed and is being shown on select screens across the country from February 13th to the 19th. Right in time for Valentine’s Day!

That Girl Allisonis giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky reader. I think it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day activity. Even if you saw the production live, I think it will be a completely different experience seeing it on screen, with close ups and all. And who doesn’t love seeing Orlando Bloom up close on screen?

Want to win? Comment and tell me what you’re doing on Valentine’s Day (even if you’re doing anti-Valentine’s Day!) and reblog this post! The winner will be announced on Wednesday.

I saw the Twelfth Night’s companion yesterday, Richard III. I had no idea what it was about except that it was about a king that murdered people. 

As with Twelfth Night, the company acted through the three hour drama exquisitely.  Mark Rylance stole the show again, duh, followed by the lovely Samuel Barnett (at least in my opinion). 

I preferred Twelfth Night to Richard III, but I think that’s only because I was more familiar with that story.

Both pieces are beautiful examples of Shakespeare’s texts when they’re performed with integrity and as they’d been performed when they were originally written. And I’m incredibly glad I saw them both. 

If there was an award called the “Most Awesome Shakespeare Company” the cast of Twelfth Night and Richard III would most definitely win it. Broadway has been inundated with Shakespeare this season, but these might be the best.

I can only speak for Twelfth Night currently (I went to see it last night and I’ll see Richard III in two weeks) but it was pretty fantastic. But you know what I really need to do before I go see shows? Research. I knew the show I was going to see (I love Shakespeare, studied his work in London in 2007, and I’ve seen Twelfth Night before) but I had no idea that they were performing all of these classically, as in men were playing all roles, including women. This took a second to get used to (who’s playing a woman? who’s playing a woman that’s disguised as a man? etc.) but it was lovely as soon as I figured out who was who. 

Who was fabulous? Everyone. Mark Rylance as Olivia, of course. Rylance conquers every role he’s given and he was brilliant here too. I loved seeing Stephen Fry as Malvolio, he’s so hysterical. Samuel Barnett, of The History Boys fame, was also perfection as Viola. 

The set was perfect – very much like The Globe in London. The musicians were fantastic. The audience absolutely loved the show too. People who I would never think would be into Shakespeare were walking out saying how amazing it was and that made me smile.

I can’t wait to see Richard III (a piece I’ve never actually seen onstage before) in a couple of weeks. It should be of equal brilliance.

By now you might have guessed that I love a good Macbeth. Whether it be one man and ninety minutes, or three and a half hours with a full ensemble, I just can’ get enough of this drama. Yesterday I went to see Lincoln Center’s revival at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Ethan Hawke was staring in the title role and though I can’t think of a single movie I’ve ever seen him in, I was excited to see what he could do onstage.

The production value was fantastic. The lighting and sound designs, Japhy Weideman and Mark Bennett respectively, made the show fifteen times better than any production I’ve seen before. The three witches were played by men in drag (Malcolm Gets, John Glover, and Byron Jennings), which was amazing. Brian d’Arcy James owned his scenes as Banquo, and Anne-Marie Duff was marvelous as Lady Macbeth. The only weak link in the cast? In my opinion it was Ethan Hawke. He was monotone and had only one expression (he’s kind of the Kristen Stewart of Broadway). Maybe my prejudice comes from having seen two masters, Patrick Stewart and Alan Cumming, play the role before him, but I was far from impressed.

Regardless though I still enjoyed this production immensely. I’d probably even see it again. That’s just how much I love Macbeth

Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Four Productions Play Broadway Simultaneously – Playbill.com

So this article was published on Playbill a few days ago and I got so excited. I knew they were was a LOT of Shakespeare on Broadway nowadays, and I love the bard, so that’s A-OK by me.

I like to see anything Mark Rylance is in (because he’s amazing) so I’m making Twelfth Night the next to cross off my list. 

Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Four Productions Play Broadway Simultaneously – Playbill.com