Showing posts with label Play. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Play. Show all posts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Outgoing Tide at 59E59

I was fortunate enough to catch Bruce Graham's "The Outgoing Tide" at 59E59 last weekend.   This is the play's New York premier.

Starring Michael Learned, Peter Strauss and Ian Lithgow, "The Outgoing Tide" a dramedy about a family stuck in a mire of indeciviness about change being forced upon them.

Peter Strauss, in a truly brilliant performance, plays rough yet surprisingly tender Gunner who is suffering from dimentia.  I was absolutely blown away by his performance.   His wife Peg, played beautifully and subtly by Michael Learned, is grasping at her rope's end and is trying to make things easier for both of them while wading in a little bit of denial.   Their grown son Jack, played by Ian Lithgow, is dealing with his own issues, both with being a father and coming to terms with his relationship with his own father.

I found the play to be very funny while being realistic, even while it tackled the sad and all too prevalent topic of aging parents.   At first, I was taken aback by the crassness of Gunner, but I found myself agreeing with him, cheering for him and even crying for him.   His character is brave and realistic.   I could see my own mother in Peg, in her wanting to take care of her husband, even in her denial of the seriousness of his condition.   I was slightly reminded of "On Golden Pond," but without the angst.  

It's beautiful one set production with lovely lighting.  Dirk Durossette was on board for scenic design, while lighting was by James Leitner.   The smoothly run show is directed by Bud Martin.  The producer is  Delaware Theatre Company.

Tickets are available online via Ticket Central or by calling 212-279-4200.  59E59 Theaters is at 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues.  It's running until December 16th and is well worth a viewing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

First Preview - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Thanks to the producer's invitation to blogger night, I attended the first preview of the new revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"   I have to say I'm feeling a little hung over this morning, and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the short Jack&Ginger I had pre-show.  

This 50th anniversary revival stars Amy Morton as "Martha" and Tracy Letts as "George."  Madison Dirks is "Nick" and Carrie Coon is "Honey."    It is directed by Pam MacKinnon with sets by Todd Rosenthal.

I was initially tempted to skip this production, which first opened at Steppenwolf in Chicago and then had a run at Arena Stagesin D.C. last year.   I felt I had already seen the definitive production in 2005, which starred Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin.   That experience, my first Albee, was perhaps the most powerful I've had in any theatre, any time.     But because I love all Albee plays and am loath to miss a production of any of his work, I couldn't resist seeing this conceipt.  

After all, Tracy Letts is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright of August: Osage County, also, like this one, one of the greatest dramas ever written.   I had the chance to speak with him before the run of his play Superior Donuts and I remember learning that he was an actor first and began writing plays in which he would be interested in acting.   It feels full circle to me to have seen his masterpiece and then see him acting in this masterpiece. Furthermore, Amy Morton also co-starred in August: Osage County, so I knew it would be interesting to see what she would do with "Martha."

The outcome is a very organic rendering of Albee's masterpiece.  It's just as funny as I remembered, while being equally horrifying and gut-wrenching.   I felt the same apathy and empathy for these people as I did before and I still wanted to scream at the young people, "Just leave for Christ's sake!"  But they can't leave and are sucked into the embarrassment and vitriol of the sickening evening.  Even with the vitriol, these actors portayed a stunning brittleness and fragility.  The final catharsis was as welcome and as astonishing as ever.   And I was still left with the feeling that I don't know what the hell happened to these people.   It's an emotionally tense three hours. 

I am very glad that I took the opportunity to re-visit this play and am particularly glad that it was this production.   "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is playing at the Booth, with an opening on October 13th.  Tickets are available via Telecharge or on discount via Broadwaybox.

Cast interview video by fellow ITBA Member New York Theater:

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Amoralists are Erect Again: The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side

I was thrilled to receive an email from my friend Zachary Lacks letting me me know that The Amoralists have revived their brilliant production of The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side

I saw this play in August, 2009 and it left quite the impression upon me.   I can still feel the alternating joy and despair of the Bohemian characters, who attempt to maintain their status quo of getting by and living cohesively in a sexually charged and familial environment.  

It was one of the most fearless, audacious, and chaotic performances from all involved that I've ever seen and, for that matter, may ever see.   This play took me to a place I never thought I would go and made see things in a different light, certainly not just in black and white.   Derek Ahonen, playwright and director, has done something very special with this work.

The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side is playing at 9th Space, ​150 First Avenue @ 9th Street, thru this weekend.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (212) 868-4444.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Columnist at Manhattan Theatre Club

I caught David Auburn's new play The Columnist at Manhattan Theatre Club on Friday night.   It was just in the nick of time - this great new drama is playing only until July 8th at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on 47th Street.

It stars John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop, the Washington columnist who had much influence on American politics from the 1940s and into the 1970s.  He seems to have been one of the last great characters of American journalism and politics of the mid 20th century.   He was close to President Franklin Roosevelt (and a distant relative) as well as President Kennedy.  He used his syndicated column to to voice his strong opinion, of which he attempted to back up with journalist reporting and fact.    He supported the US's involvement in the the Viet Nam conflict, including escalation even in the Johnson administration.  

The play tells the story of the man behind the columnist.  Auburn aspires to tell the story of his homosexuality, which he never publicly admitted to, his relationship with his brother Stewart Alsop, also a writer and sometimes co-columnist, his wife and step-daughter.   It also touches on events shaped by the cold war, the Viet Nam conflict, and Kennedy's election and assassination.

Before going in, I didn't research Alsop or even the subject matter of the play.  I had seen the local tv commercial and was under the impression that this was a comedy.  However, I found it to actually be  a drama, although there were some delightfully witty moments.  I left feeling completely intrigued about Alsop and his influence, even if a bit shocked.   

I find the real life Alsop rather despicable, even if courageous for his refusal to backdown on his beliefs and his own personal trials due to his homosexuality.  Lithgow manages to bring a stunning humanity to this man.   He deservedly received a 2012 Tony nomination for Best Actor for this role.  He is a master on stage and in this case is onstage for almost the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes.  

The play is directed by Daniel Sullivan, who brings subtlety and some quite breathtaking elements to the play.   The cast is nicely rounded out by Margaret Colin, Boyd Gaines, Stephen Kunken, Marc Bonan, Grace Gummer and Brian J. Smith. 

This is a great escape for any history lover, who is especially interested in the Viet Nam or the cold war.  I'm really glad I had the chance to see it.   Lithgow is not to be missed.   Discount tickets are available online via BroadwayBox or call 212-947-8844 and mention code COBXB82.  

Disclosure: I received comp tickets from the press agent.