Friday, April 22, 2011

"Sweet silver angels over the sea, please come down flyin' low for me. One time I trusted a stranger, 'cause I heard his sweet song. And it was gently enticin' me, though there was somethin' wrong, but when I turned he was gone. Blindin' me, his song remains remindin' me, he's a bandit and a heart breaker. Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker." ~judee sill

The version posted above is a cover by The Hollies.

This is another Broadway post. I've been lucky enough to see quite a few shows recently. This is the busiest time of year for theater. It's Tony season, which means all the best shows are opening now, and I'm trying to see as many as possible. It's a really strong season for theater in my opinion (at least for plays).

I went to a Cake concert last night and I'll blog about that later, but I'm just focusing on theater in this post.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Daniel Radcliffe is just charming enough to pull this off. The production isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's fun. I loved seeing John Larroquette onstage (although all I could think of was Roan Montgomery, his character on Chuck). I really admire Daniel Radcliffe's work ethic. You can tell he's putting all of his energy into his character. He dances well, he's not a bad singer, and he's taking his job seriously. I enjoyed the show.

The Motherf**cker With the Hat
Based on it's title and the fact that Chris Rock is one of the stars, you might be skeptical of this play, but it would probably surprise you. I was mostly interested in it because of Bobby Cannavale. I love him. I've seen him onstage a number of times and he's always fabulous. He's also done some great movies, most recently Win Win (I posted about that one recently) and most notably The Station Agent (such a great film). I'll see anything he's in. This play is very good, and not just because of Bobby Cannavale (though of course his performance is amazing). The whole ensemble, including Chris Rock, is strong, and the play is deep and thoughtful and sad and funny.

I'm going to share with you the words of someone more well-spoken than I: Ben Brantley gave it a rave in the New York Times, and it's even one of his two recommended shows, alongside Jerusalem. Snippets of his review:
"The play that dare not speak its name turns out to have a lot to say. Stephen Adly Guirgis’s vibrant and surprisingly serious new comedy opened on Monday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater under a title that cannot be printed in most daily newspapers or mentioned on network television....

The characters portrayed by a marvelous, intensely focused five-member ensemble — including the stand-up comic Chris Rock, in a solid Broadway debut, and a blazingly good Bobby Cannavale — are always striving for a mot juste to explain their less than clear-cut feelings....

You could even say that “Hat,” directed with fire and tenderness by Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County”), is about both the inadequacy and necessity of language, which here includes assaultive bombardments of insults, the zippy slogans of television commercials and the orotund pronouncements of self-help manuals....

But the broken, jagged heart of this production belongs to Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Cannavale, who turn their characters’ relationship into a bruising, tragicomic apache dance of love, betrayal and indecision."

I saw John Lithgow and Peter Dinklage in the audience; I was really happy to see Peter Dinklage supporting his costar from The Station Agent. Go see that movie if you haven't, by the way.

I wrote about Jerusalem already, but now that it's officially opened I feel like I ought to share snippets from Brantley's review of that show as well. Again, it's one of his two recommended picks. This is an all-out rave if I've ever seen one, and I believe it's well-deserved.
"A thundery whisper, like a premonition of earthquakes, fills the air every time someone looks deep, but really deep, into the eyes of Johnny Byron. And since Johnny Byron is portrayed by Mark Rylance, in a seismic performance that threatens to level the old Music Box Theater, this registers as utterly natural cause and effect.....

“Jerusalem” could have been written in almost any year from the 1920s onward. Yet this work takes you places — distant, out-of-time places — that well-made plays seldom do. And it thinks big — transcendently big — in ways contemporary drama seldom dares....

Mr. Rylance also captures — to a degree I can imagine no other contemporary actor doing — Johnny’s vast, vital, Falstaffian appetite for pleasure, for independence, for life itself. Mr. Rylance has already dazzled Broadway this season with his portrayal of the inexhaustibly obnoxious title character of “La BĂȘte.” But his Johnny Byron is truly a performance for the ages.

We theatergoers too are starved for a sense of the mythic, for performances we can talk about with glassy-eyed rapture in the years to come. Mr. Butterworth, Mr. Rickson and Mr. Rylance have provided us with that opportunity. Except in this case the mythic is no mere myth."

No comments: