The Labyrinth Theater Company is stirring up a little bohemian magic at the Public Theater where a delightful production of Bob Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating directed by Peter DuBois is making its world premiere. The top notch cast is headed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in his first New York stage appearance since winning the Oscar “gold” for Capote. Not much happens in terms of excitement but what does transpire is lively, heartwarming, and poignant. Here is a slice of New York City life told from the struggling journeyman’s point of view.
“Get me a gun”, Barry Champlain the late night talk show host of TALK RADIO demands, using an expletive never heard in this medium. As Champlain, Liev Schreiber makes a commanding and physically riveting presence…his legs twitching with angst, the veins in his forehead pulsing with anger.
To witness one of the most powerful theatrical productions in the entire city, walk a few blocks West of Times Square on 42nd Street to the Signature Theatre Company and pay $15 for a ticket to King Hedley II, the final installment of the Signature’s 2006/2007 tribute to the late playwright August Wilson. Earlier this season the Signature scored impressively with their staging of Wilson’s Seven Guitars and Two Trains Running. The company had long planned a Wilson season, but when the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright died on October 2, 2005 that season took on greater significance.
The Lincoln Center Theater production of Dying City, a new play by Christopher Shinn directed by James Macdonald is an engaging 90 minute journey into the troubled souls of three people impacted by the war in Iraq. The little play with much to say was originally produced in London last spring at the Royal Court Theatre and has been beautifully staged here at the Mitzi E. Newhouse.
Actress Mercedes Ruehl was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contibutions to the Performing Arts by Guild Hall’s Academy of Arts at their Annual Gala held in the Rainbow Room. The lavish event Emceed by Marshal Brickman also honored John Chamberlain for Visual Arts, Paul Goldberger for Liiterary Arts, and Roy Furman received a Special Award for Leadership and Philanthropic Endeavors. Guild Hall is the cultural center of East Hampton
The journey has concluded with Salvage, the third part of Tom Stoppard’s ambitious trilogy The Cost of Utopia which opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The visually stunning Lincoln Center production is an impressive achievement covering decades of time, cram packed with ideas and philosophies and peopled with a multitude of characters. Directed by previous Stoppard collaborator Jack O’Brien, the richly evocative evening is stylishly dazzling, but despite all its accomplishments the epic drama chronicling the life of a group of 19th century Russian intellectuals longing for the revolution is ultimately less than compelling theatre.
Shipwreck, the second installment of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Cost of Utopia, is an impressive achievement; however the visually stunning production directed by Jack O’Brien is more dramatically engaging than the playwright’s unfolding storylines told by an enormous cast of over 40 actors. O’Brien and his design team have created many astonishing images that have trumped Stoppard’s epic drama of 19th century Russian intellectuals during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas. Indeed the dramatic design elements are the real stars of the evening upstaging not only the actors, but the play as well. Set designers Bob Crowley and Scott Pask have provided diversely arresting images including: the Place de la Concorde, before, during and after the French revolution; a marvelous chandelier that hangs over many of the salon scenes commenting on the lavish lifestyle of the main characters; and many incandescent backdrops. Kenneth Posner’s imaginative lighting enhances the visual components to such a degree that several of the scenes have an awe inspiring effect. The intensity of the visuals will linger in your mind long after you have forgotten much of the evening’s philosophical debates.
Voyage now being presented at Lincoln Center, is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s ambitious project, The Coast of Utopia that premiered four years ago in London. Coast is a trilogy of plays chronicling the life of a group of 19th century Russian intellectuals longing for the revolution, and the magnificent Lincoln Center staging directed by previous Stoppard collaborator Jack O’Brien is visually stunning. However, the play over-brimming with smart ideas and detailed characters, although stimulating, ultimately fails to move.
The trilogy follows six young idealistic noblemen, who meet as students at the University of Moscow during the repressive reign of Tsar Nichols and forge lasting friendships that will propel them though their challenging lifetime, and guide their struggles with the events that will eventually bring Russia into the modern age. Voyage, the initial installment of Stoppard’s heady concept, begins with the image of Premukhino, a country estate in 1833 Russia, where we hear the first ruminations of the coming revolution. Part two, Shipwreck, will take us to Moscow and 1848 Paris, the epicenter of change in the world.
The press release hails Sealed for Freshness, the new Tupperware comedy written and directed by Doug Stone as “a hilarious journey of self discovery.” Don’t be taken in as there is nothing even remotely hilarious about this tasteless tale. Everything about the evening including the script, the set, the costumes and most definitely the direction is decidedly tacky. Sure you will laugh at the absurdity that anything about the play resembles a journey of self discovery, and you will roll your eyes in horror all the while laughing. No doubt there is an audience for this sort of exaggerated gross humor that pokes fun at five totally unconscious women and their attempts to spice up their lives with a Tupperware party, but I doubt that audience spends much time in a real live theatre.
With the death of Frank Ebb in 2004, Curtains marks probably the last original collaboration by Kander & Ebb, Broadway’s longest-running songwriting team. The duo gave us Cabaret, Zorba, Chicago, The Rink, Steel Pier and Kiss of the Spider Woman, not to mention The Act, Flora, the Red Menace, The Happy Time, 70 Girls 70, and Woman of the Year. And, the song “New York, New York.”Curtains has been developed by Mystery of Edwin Drood Tony winner Rupert Holmes from an original concept by the late Peter Stone, who won Tonys for his librettos for Titanic, Woman of the Year and 1776. Composer Kander has done additional lyrics with Holmes.
(Curtains is in previews at the Hirshfeld Theatre, Opening Night is March 22)
Broadway legends and rising stars gave their all for "Broadway Backwards 2," a benefit for the LGBT Center. The highlight of this marvelous evening at 37 Arts Theater was performances by Betty Buckley and Len Cariou