ABT recently announced their Spring/Summer 2015 season at the Met. I’m seriously considering a special trip to NYC just to see two of my absolute favorite dancers, Marcelo Gomes and Julie Kent (her final season!), in their production of Othello. Below is a clip of Marcelo dancing the title role with Alessandra Ferri.
We’ve written up our experiences and this year’s GayRomLit Retreat.
Mommy, I wanna be Faye Dunaway for Halloween!
Lord, if only this were real.
On our recent post-GRL trip to NYC I got the chance to partake of some of Broadway’s most recent offerings.
First was the new Donald Margulies play The Country House. Blythe Danner is the matriarch of a quirky theatrical brood who gather at the family house in Williamstown for the summer season. Most are starting rehearsals for upcoming productions, but the gathering also coincides with the death of Danner’s daughter the year before. A dramatic set-up for sure and there-in lies the problem. In an interview with Margulies in the back of the playbill, he insists the play is a comedy. The Country House isn’t particularly funny. I’d consider it more of a drama with funny moments.
Blythe Danner is gorgeous and she digs into the role of a famous (and somewhat fading) actress with gusto. The rest of the cast is terrific too, it’s just that the play itself suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, making it a good, but not great evening at the theatre.
I also had a chance to see On the Town and I freaking loved it! Based on the dance piece Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins, On the Town is the story of three sailors on 24 hour shore-leave in New York City. One of the boys spots a poster of the current Miss Turnstiles and is determined to meet her. His friends decide to help him out and hilarity ensues.
Jeff and I saw the last revival in 1998. Other than the fact that it featured Lea DeLaria and Jessie Tyler Ferguson, I don’t remember much about it. This current production is perfectly cast and beautifully designed. Did I mention how much I freaking loved it!
One thing that struck me about this production was that this is very much a ‘dance’ show. The ’98 version was very troubled and I believe that huge sections were cut out when the choreographer was fired. The 2014 version really opened my eyes. Not only does it feature hilarious book scenes (by the incomparable Comden & Green) and terrific songs, there’s an incredible score by Leonard Bernstein that is augmented with wonderfully energetic choreography by Joshua Bergasse. I particularly loved the Coney Island dream ballet in act 2.
I enjoyed both shows a lot, but if you’re in New York, I can’t recommend On the Town enough.
Jeff and I also saw the star-studded production of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play. You can read Jeff’s review of it here.
Shortly before we left NYC in early July, I started seeing posters for It’s Only a Play, which was scheduled to play a limited run starting in October. I was sad to miss it. First because it’s a Terrece McNally comedy. Second because of the cast: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, F. Murray Abraham, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullay and Rupert Grint. Casting doesn’t get much more stellar than that.
Well, October arrived and Will and I found ourselves in New York this week. Luckily, we managed to snag tickets to this event show.
It’s a riot!
The plot is simple: it’s opening night of a new American play on Broadway and everyone’s gathered for the opening night party to await the reviews.
Broderick is the playwright hoping to turn his off-Broadway success into Broadway success. Mullay is the first time solo producer backing the show. Lane is Broderick’s best friend who left theater to star in a long running sitcom. Channing is an actress coming back to Broadway after a stint in rehab, and currently on parole. Grint is an eccentric British director. Abraham is a venomous critic crashing the party. Also on hand is Micah Stock, making his Broadway debut, as a young man just arrived in the city and having his first job taking guest’s coats.
Everything happens in the producer’s bedroom as the party guests hide out from what’s happening downstairs.
The script drops names, and shows, all over the place. Taking good natured jabs at people like James Franco, Rita Moreno, Daniel Radcliffe (to name just a few) and some not so good natured shots at the powerful New York Times critic Ben Brantley among others. Most of these got belly laughs from the audience, but a couple times the audience gasped in surprise. For example, Mullay’s character doesn’t produce musicals, because (to paraphrase) “after Mamma Mia was a success, why bother.” I laughed and clapped at that one since it is one of the more distressing musicals to have found hit status.
The show is also a love letter to American plays and why their important. Broderick has several nice siloquys on the subject and the audience sounded their approval with applause.
The cast was spot on as you’d want them to be. I was glad that Nathan Lane wasn’t replaying his Producers persona, which he seems to fall into a lot. He even had some zinger lines that were self referential. Megan Mullay was a hoot as the ditzy producer with some awesome nonsensical lines. Broderick seemed understated at times, but delivered the poignant moments he needed to. Stockard Channing was magic to watch, especially some of her subtle reactions to the things going on around her. Rupert Grint was manic as required, but sometimes too much so which also made him hard to understand.
Two special shoutouts have to be given. F. Murray Abraham was hilarious. This was a role unlike any of seen him in previously. I had no idea he had such comic chops. Micah Stock also was delightful as his Gus attempts to learn everything possible from the assembled party goers. His “Defying Gravity” moment was priceless.
While the plot of waiting for the reviews, and then reacting to the reviews, runs a bit thin at times, the comedy more than makes up for it.
If you’re in NYC while this show is running, try to grab a ticket and prepare to laugh out loud for two and a half hours.
While we were in Chicago for GayRomLit, one of our anniversaries fell on Sunday, so we decided to go to the Joffrey Ballet’s premiere production of Swan Lake choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. This is our third production of the classic ballet, having seen American Ballet Theatre’s production a few times as well as Matthew Bourne’s all-male version.
This telling put yet another spin on it. Part of it happens in the rehearsal hall as a company prepares to perform Swan Lake, other parts occur within the mind of the principal dancer that plays the prince. It’s an interesting way to go, and it made for an incredible afternoon.
Act I opened in the ballet studio as the patron and ballet master watch rehearsal. There’s some sublime dancing in this section from some of the featured dancers, especially the pas de trois.
At the end of rehearsal, the principal dancer stays behind and conjures the fantasy of Swan Lake and looses himself in the moment, dancing beautifully as Act II begins and the swans and Odette appear and a battle with Von Rothbart begins.
For Act III, rather than the prince’s party there’s a gala dinner celebrating the troupe’s upcoming performance. I loved the dances presented at the dinner, especially one that seemed a riff on the dance of the seven veils with a female and her suitors. It was sexy cool. There was also a tango-infused number that was tremendous. Of course, this is where Von Rothbart tricks the prince/principal dancer. The dance between the principal dancer and the evil black swan was breathtaking in its complexity.
Act IV, back at the lakeside, with the Principal Dancer blurring the reality of the rehearsal space with the late the final dances with the flock of swans and Odette. This act featured some of the best choreography of the three Swan Lake productions I’ve seen. Everything built to crushing crescendo as Odette has left forever and the prince is left alone. In this case, it’s the principal dancer left in the rehearsal studio as the dancer’s are returning for rehearsal to begin.
When I read about, and saw the video below, this production, I wasn’t sure how I”d feel about it. Every expectation was exceeded. I’m glad I got to experience this Swan Lake and finally got to see the Joffrey.