Thought it was about time I made time, and reported on the shows I have seen, so far.
1. SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM.
What a great choice for my first show. A musical revue, come documentary of sorts, all about Stephen Sondheim. Most of you know how big a fan I am, so you could imagine my excitement. It was fantastic. A clever well conceived theatre piece. Combining wonderful interpretations of many Sondheim tunes, interspersed with video footage of old archival Sondheim interviews and some specially filmed ones. Hearing the grand master in his own words was very enlightening. He is very funny, and very honest and open. The set was great, it featured broken tile like pieces that were the video screens, they revolved, slid in and out, did all sorts of thing, sort of like moving scrabble pieces, perhaps a tribute to Sondheim’s favorite thing, crossword puzzles?
The show had a stellar cast, some perhaps miscast, but all a pleasure to watch perform. The divine Barbara Cook sung beautifully of course, perhaps a bit hammy as an actress, but it doesn’t require great acting. The very beautiful Vanessa Williams(Ugly Betty) has a good set of lungs, Norm Lewis who is very highly regarded here on Broadway was simply superb. Tom Wopat (TV’s Dukes Of Hazzard), was good too, though his voice was having problems, perhaps a cold. He was probably not the best casting choice for the roles he played, but he did fine. Leslie Kritzer, an up and comer was fantastic, she has a belting voice and is a great comedian. Her rendition of “Know You Know” fom Merrily We Roll Along was a highlight. Euan Morton, who played Boy George in the musical Taboo, had some great moments, particularly in the Merrily We Roll Along sequences. It felt like he might be a casting choice if they revive it, And judging from the number of tunes from the show, they might, and should. There were 2 other young singers who rounded out the cast, both good, but nothing to rave about.
It was directed by James Lapine, a frequent collaborator of Sondheim. He knows the man and his music, so he made some good choices. I particularly like the end of the first half which highlighted all the end of first half numbers. “Sunday” from Sunday In The Park, “Ever After” from Into The Woods, “A Weekend In The Country” from Night Music……clever. The highlights of the show were Barbara Cook singing “Send In The Clowns” (I know not another version), she sang it beautifully. And Norm Lewis singing “Being Alive” was amazing, it stopped the show, for a long time. It gave me goosebumps. I could go on and on, but you get the drift. I LOVED IT
A revival of the famed rock musical. It was its closing weekend after a 2 year run. A superbly realised production, very powerful and relevant even today. The cast were very energetic, but not being the originals, it showed. Slightly tired and undisciplined, that was the only let down. 2 of the leads were American Idol alumni, good voices, not so good actors. The sets and lighting were great. Overall I loved it. As did the audience.
The multi award winning play, the hit of the season. Written by film scribe John Logan. It is about the great painter Mark Rothko, who with the help of a new assistant, is preparing, and painting his recently commission Seagram Building murals. Well if you are familiar with Rothko, you will know the results and the paintings. Starring the wonderful Alfred Molina, as Rothko, and new talent Eddie Redmayne (now a Tony winner) as his assistant. It is all about art, passion, commercialism, selling out, egotism etc. It was wonderful, a very moving play, stunning set design, lighting design and sound. It felt sometimes like you were watching a film. Beautifully directed by Michael Grandage. The scene where the two prime the canvas in red paint was spine tingling. God I love moments like that, only theatre can do it. By the way, the actor Bill Irwin was sitting in the seat next to me. I was so glad I bought tickets weeks ago, it was a sell out on it’s 2nd last performance. Seeing it in the city it is set was a treat too, all the references just outside the theatre. Time for a trip to MOMA4. AMERICAN IDIOT
Well you know my feelings about this piece of crap
5. SOUTH PACIFIC
The hit revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. Great production, tired after it’s almost 3 year run. I enjoyed it but didnt blow me away.
6. PROMISES, PROMISES.
Another revival, but this time new and with its first cast. It makes a difference. And what a cast! The sublime Kristin Chenoweth, wow, what a powerhouse dynamo. Big talent in a small package. Those who know me, know my feelings about Kristin, I adore her, I love her. Kristin! Kristin! Kristin!. And she didn’t disappoint.
Performing alongside her, actually, in the lead role, was the wonderful Sean Hayes, from TV’s Will & Grace. He has great comic timing. His physical comedy was fab as well, a particular moment with an Eames chaise lounge was inspired. He has a good singing voice, he was excellent.
Tony Goldwyn and Dick Latessa in support roles were also very good. But, the highlight was the amazing Katie Finneran as the drunk pick up that Sean Hayes meets in a bar. She took home the Tony for her 15 minutes of stage time, and she steals the show . She was hysterical, I laughed so much. I wish everyone could see her. Special mention to the singers and dancers, the gypsys all hand picked and superb. I gotta tell you, you need to see a first run cast, to really get what Broadway musicals are about.
The production was good, the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs are ok. The musical is not great to start with, so that is all I can fault.
Just to hear Kristin belt out the tunes, Sean ham it up, and the great Katie, made it a memorable experience.
7. THE OCTOROON: An Adaptation Of The Octoroon, Based On The Octoroon.
An off- broadway play, performed at an old public school , called Peformance Space 122.
Wanda & Doris’ lovely New York friends – Joan & Dominique cooked me dinner and took me along to see the show.
I am so glad I did the off- Broadway thing as well. This show didn’t disappoint.
It had a history of the original director leaving the production and the playwrite taking over. A turbulent beginning. Well all of that is interwoven into the play. Hard to explain, but very interesting W & D, I will explain when I see you both.
The play is an adaptation of a melodrama about slaves on a southern plantation. An insight into racism. The modern take is that the dialogue is very 2010, and it works!. It is a drama, that has had it’s own drama, and all is interwoven. Clever, and entertaining.
Was very sweet of the girls to take me along, good company, a good evening. Excellent!
So that is it so far. I think I can fit in another 2 or 3 shows before I leave on Wednesday. There is an open mike show on Monday that I think I will see. It is called Sondheim Unplugged. They have special guests that were original Sondheim show cast members. This week it is the original Johanna from Sweeney Todd.
Sadly there are 2 productions I wish I could see. One starts a week after I leave, the other in October (perhaps I must come back?)
here they are
Not to be poo pooed, a Lincoln Centre production and a good director.
A diva fest, so sad I will miss Stritchy in a show:(
I had better go, gotta get into the TKTS line.