Big Love is a gorgeous mess, an adaptation by Charles Mee of what is considered the oldest play in Western culture, Aeschylus’s The Danaids. He has taken the source material, expanded, yet efficiently reduced it, adding material from other sources and spun it into a wise, funny, sad contemporary force of nature.
In The Last Ship rock star/actor/songwriter Sting honors his childhood home where shipbuilding was both the economic backbone, and the emotional sinew that kept the town together. The show is a dark, but loving, paean to community and family, a Capra-esque, morality tale with characters who are either good—on the side of those wanting to build “the last ship”—or bad—those working for the evil capitalists who have bought the shipyard.
Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play is not one of his better efforts. In fact, it’s a terrible play! But, you know what? Who cares? When a show keeps you laughing for two and a half hours, fly to the theater, beg, borrow or steal tickets and indulge yourself! Theater mavens and drama queens might have a slight edge in getting the jokes, but there is enough brilliantly choreographed mayhem and pointed zingers to keep anyone rolling in the aisles. Add a world-class cast and it’s easy to see why this show, first staged in 1986, has become such a hit, tweaked and updated by Mr. McNally.
The Barrington Stage Company production of On the Town has made it to Broadway, brilliantly expanded to fill the large Lyric Theater, losing none of its summer theater charm. What is the magic ingredient that makes this revival of On the Town so wonderful?
Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink is a sweet, melancholic reverie on family, art, England and India, an elegy for lost cultures, friends and family. Set in both India and England in 1930 and 1980 the play shows the how time ravages countries, customs and memory. In a first rate production, directed with an eye for nuance and detail by Carey Perloff and starring the luminous Rosemary Harris and Romola Garai, the Roundabout does itself proud.
If we can’t have Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech back at the Joyce Theater, its former home, I guess we’ll have to settle for his Kids Dance, a program featuring forty or so ebullient students from Ballet Tech’s Public School for Dance. Settling, it turns out, was actually hardly needed. This was a thoroughly professional, vibrant show full of promise.
Alone in Triptych, by Renee Philippi, presented by the Concrete Temple Theatre at HERE is an odd attraction for this temple of the avant-garde. Alone is a straightforward, beautifully acted trilogy of intertwining solos. The title is a bit misleading since each of the three characters is at all times addressing an unseen person, the object of their obsessive attention.
Clear as a bell I remember being taken to the Rivoli, a first-run movie palace on Broadway, to see the film Oklahoma! starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. Her freshness and lovely soprano was transporting. Seeing her so many years later onstage at the intimate, elegant Café Carlyle conjures the same thrill, her warmth and elegance filling the room. She began her show with a short video of her career, from musical theater ingénue to Academy Award winning prostitute to beloved sitcom mom.
Forget about life being like a box of chocolates! It’s the indefatigable Scott Siegel’s Broadway by the Year franchise that is full of tasty bonbons: classic Broadway numbers performed by extraordinary singers and dancers. Rather than focusing on just one year as usual, Siegel is presenting four programs covering 100 years of musical theater history, a marathon of songs given amazing interpretations by leading ladies and men. The first program took us from 1915 to 1939, heady years in the history of musical theater.