Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Goodbye to the 2011 Broadway Season

The 65th Annual Tony Awards were on Sunday night.  I usually treat the event like it's Prom Night, but I wasn't in the mood to celebrate this rather dull season in my typical fashion.  However, I did have a few of the gang over to watch the broadcast with me - and incidentally celebrate my 9th anniversary of becoming a New Yorker.  It turned out that the broadcast of the Tony Awards was as much of a reason to celebrate as any - it was the best that any of us had seen in recent years. 

Of the 42 Broadway shows that opened between June 1, 2010 and June 1, 2011, I saw only 13, and most of them had only a short life:

A Free Man of Color 
[Play, Drama]
Nov 18, 2010 - Jan 9, 2011 Performance Count: 61

Mar 17, 2011 - Present - Performance Count: 100

Brief Encounter
[Play, Melodrama, Play with music]
Sep 28, 2010 - Jan 2, 2011 - Performance Count: 111

[Play, Comedy]
Nov 21, 2010 - Nov 28, 2010 - Performance Count: 9

[Play, Drama]
Apr 19, 2011 - Apr 24, 2011 - Performance Count: 7

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
[Musical, Comedy]
Mar 27, 2011 - Present - Performance Count: 89

La Bête
[Play, Comedy]
Oct 14, 2010 - Jan 9, 2011 - Performance Count: 101

The Normal Heart
[Play, Drama]
Apr 27, 2011 - Present - Performance Count: 54

The People in the Picture
[Musical, Comedy, Drama]
Apr 28, 2011 - Present - Performance Count: 52

The Scottsboro Boys
[Musical, Drama]
Oct 31, 2010 - Dec 12, 2010 - Performance Count: 49

War Horse
[Play, Drama]
Apr 14, 2011 - Present - Performance Count: 69

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Nov 4, 2010 - Jan 2, 2011 - Performance Count: 69

[Musical, Fantasy]
Apr 17, 2011 - May 15, 2011 - Performance Count: 33
Of these, it was the plays I enjoyed most.  I really loved La Bête (Joanna Lumley, David Hyde Pierce, Mark Rylance), The Normal Heart (Joe Mantello, John Benjamin Hickey, Ellen Barkin) and A Free Man of Color (Jeffrey Wright, Veanne Cox, John McMartin, Paul F. Dano).  I enjoyed the very entertaining and lovely Brief Encounter very much - it was  aplay with music and I wish I had a recording of the wonderful Noel Coward tunes the cast performed.  I liked Arcadia and High as well.    The Normal Heart was unreal.  A lady asked me at intermission if I was "enjoying the play."   I couldn't say I was - sure the acting and direction is phenomenal, but the subject matter tore my heart out.  I felt sad, ashamed, horrified, and grief stricken.  I confess that I, often devoid of even moist eyes, practically wept during the second act.   It runs until July 10th and I believe that anybody who has an interest in powerful theatre and performances should go.  

As for the musicals, How to Succeed in Business, which is still running and I'm telling you to go see it, was a great time in the theatre with its high energy, classic songs and fantastic choreography.    The Scottsboro Boys was extraodinary theatre.  I needed to see it again to fully understand its powerful imagery, but unfortunately that chance didn't come.   It was one of those shows that was artfully entertaining, challenging, beautifully staged and acted, perfect really.  I'm sorry it closed so soon, but I hear from a producer friend of mine that a another life, although probably not on Broadway, is imminent.   It didn't get the due it deserved.  I really liked Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.  Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, both nominated for the Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical, were outstanding and I'm enjoying the cast album very much, partciularly Patti's "Invisible."    I enjoyed the first act of Wonderland, especially the performance by Karen Mason as the Queen of Hearts and the costumes by Susan Hilferty.   The People in the Picture was interesting but not quite good, although I kept thinking about seeing it again.  The reason to see it is the incomparable Donna Murphy, who flits back and forth between generations as if she's changing a hat.  She's extraordinary in anything she does, even in this not great musical.   It closes this Sunday so there's still a few days in which to catch her performance.

The best thing about seeing all of these shows and what really made them memorable was that I was always with great friends.   It's fine to see a show alone and sometimes I do, but its that communal experience of being in a theatre when anything can happen and that any given performance will never be what it was or is or will be twice that makes it so special.   Thank you to my theatre buddies of the 2011 season:   Karigee, Chris Caggiano of Everything I Know I Learned from Musicals, Byrne Harrison of Stagebuzz.com , Linda of Pataphysical Science, Noah, and Kyle for sharing tickets and keeping me company.  

When accepting the Tony for Best Revival of a Play for The Normal Heart on Sunday night, Daryl Roth, producer, said, "...we all share a deep belief that theatre can change the world, and that theater really matters."

1 comment:

Esther said...

I still have a few more shows to see before closing out my 2010-2011 Broadway season, including The Normal Heart.

But La Bete was definitely a high point for me. I know some critics praised Mark Rylance while being less enthusiastic about the play. But I loved the play as well as all the performances. I thought it raised questions about art and commerce in a very thoughtful, clever and entertaining way. And most thrilling, I got to meet the playwright, David Hirson, at the stage door and tell him how much I enjoyed it!