Imagine the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a modern day tale like this. Eurydice, played by Maria Dizzia arrives in Hades after falling from the penthouse apartment of a rich older man, a snake of a character portrayed by Mark Zeisler. Wearing a proper pink suit, carrying a suitcase and umbrella she travels on to the land of the dead. And what trumpets her arrival? Not the sonorous notes of her beloved Orpheus, but the clatter of tin pans created by sound designer Bray Poor.
Low. Very low. The lowest of the low, as in burlesque. ABSINTHE in the Spiegeltent by The South Street Seaport evokes German cabaret of the 30’s & 40’s as though it were iPod music with an ear to the taste of today’s busy urban professionals.
As the lead singer, a cross dresser and female impersonator Paul Capsis says early in the show “Marlene let me be your personal iPhone.” Besides Miss Dietrich and Janis Joplin, he does a Judy Garland imitation in which he takes the hand of an audience member. The night I attended it just happened to be the gossip columnist Cindy Adams. He looked deeply into the octogenarian’s surgically enhanced eyes and remarked in a drunken haze, “Liza, it’s Mama. We look more and more alike every day.”
Two vastly different brothers confront their traumatic past in Neil LaBute’s latest offering In a Dark Dark House, a mysteriously twisted tale of sibling rivalry and abuse that despite a powerfully volatile performance by Frederick Weller in the central role, curiously lacks tension. MCC Theater is presenting the world premier of the new drama Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, where the play opened a limited run engagement just last week.
Omigod I think Broadway’s Palace Theater totally has a huge hit with the new musical Legally Blonde. Based on the Reese Witherspoon film of the same name, the savvy new show is an effervescent delight, bristling with non stop energy for almost two and a half hours of lively fun. First time Broadway director Jerry Mitchell rarely lets up on the frenzied pace and I doubt the target audience will care one iota. The smart creative team has delivered the message of being true to yourself in a candy coated; pastel colored package that explodes with oomph bombarding the senses like an overdose of adrenalin.
Frank Langella is Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States and his towering portrayal of our disgraced leader is at the center of the briskly entertaining new play Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan. In his story, Morgan dramatizes the account of the 1977 television interviews between the TV personality David Frost and the post Watergate Nixon as a winner take all prize fight between two hungry opponents. Michael Sheen playing Frost is Langella’s worthy adversary and watching the two consummate actors go at each other with all the skills in their arsenal is thrilling indeed.
An immensely entertaining Radio Golf, the final play by the late great playwright August Wilson has arrived on Broadway in a handsomely staged production by Kenny Leon that bristles with forceful urgency. Convincingly performed by an outstanding cast of five, Wilson’s potent story has numerous plot twists that bring added dimension and suspense to his compelling tale.
“What becomes a legend most?” For an in the flesh answer travel to West 45th Street in New York where a true legend, Angela Lansbury, is making her eagerly awaited return to Broadway in a first rate production of Te
rrence McNally’s latest offering Deuce, a fictitious comedy about arguably the greatest women’s doubles team in tennis history.. Lansbury, the musical actress, and McNally, the prolific playwright, need little introduction to Broadway audiences having each won four Tony Awards, but the fact that Lansbury, at 83, hasn’t appeared in a production here for 25 years has become a cause to celebrate.
No matter how professionally it’s produced, Thornton Wilder’s classic, OUR TOWN, typically evokes the feeling that one has just visited the high school auditorium. For better or worse, The Roundabout Theatre’s production of 110 IN THE SHADE at Studio 54 is a similar experience as it asks us to visit a moment of innocence in which story telling is laid bare.
The legendary showman Harold Prince has helmed the World Premiere of the new musical LoveMusik, giving the show a high concept Brechtian style that captures precisely the moody quality of the Kurt Weill songs featured in the evening. The esteemed director, who brought us memorable productions of Cabaret, Sweeny Todd, The Phantom of the Opera and Evita, has two multi talented Broadway stars Michael Cerveris and Donna Murphy to play Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya in the story of their 25 year relationship. The show is daring, indeed, but considering all the talent involved ultimately disappointing and rarely moving.
A soaring yet uneven revival of Eugene O’Neill’s tragic love story, A Moon for the Misbegotten, has arrived on Broadway by way of London’s Old Vic Theatre, where the production in a limited run was a critically acclaimed hit last season. The complete company, headed by the British darling, Olivier Award winner Eve Best and two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey are reprising their roles under Howard Davies’ direction in the British import. Mr. Spacey, incidentally, is the artistic director of The Old Vic and a devotee of the playwright having appeared on Broadway in O”Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh, but the evening belongs to Eve Best, who delivers a searing performance as the gangly heroine.
Christopher Plummer shines in the Broadway revival of the 1955 courtroom drama Inherit the Wind. The play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee is a somewhat fictionalized recounting of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” in Tennessee, where a substitute high school biology teacher was indicted and tried for teaching Darwin’s theories of evolution in his classroom.
Vanessa Redgrave and Joan Didion, the names conjure up vastly different images and styles, yet the two have come together for a Broadway production that is considered by many to be the theatrical event of the season. Under David Hare’s seasoned direction the great Redgrave, a Academy Award and Tony Award winning actress, returns to Broadway in a one character play The Year of Magical Thinking based on Didion’s haunting memoir of the same name.
Grace O’Malley, the heroine of “The Pirate Queen”, is a warrior, chieftain, mother and an abused wife who befriends Queen Elizabeth I, saving Ireland from British subjugation. It’s all in a day’s work for this superwoman. Yes, you guessed it, a lot of soap, a pinch of history and some rehashed tuners from Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s “Les Miserables” and you have their latest Broadway musical.
Curtains, the new musical by composer John Kander and the late lyricist Fred Ebb features one of the final scores by the legendary songwriting team that gave us Cabaret, and Chicago, and if the musical with a book by Rupert Holmes has none of the edge of those classics, the backstage murder mystery is nonetheless a lighthearted homage to the golden age of musical theater. The show directed by Scott Ellis is a non stop entertainment, but the energetic performances of the talented cast give the evening an added panache that the musical lacks.
The Broadway revival of Prelude to a Kiss, the romantic comedy by Craig Lucas now being presented by Roundabout Theatre Company under Daniel Sullivan’s direction is quite pleasant. The play, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1990, made its world premiere Off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory turning Alec Baldwin into a star opposite Mary-Louise Parker and subsequently moved to Broadway where Timothy Hutton replaced Mr. Baldwin. In 1992 Mr. Lucas adapted the play into a successful feature film with Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin that many people still remember fondly.