Scene: June '12
What? From the show website: "Uncover the truth about marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. "8"—a new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar)—demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Learn about the historical context of marriage from expert testimony. See the human cost of discrimination. Uncover the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Using the actual court transcripts from the landmark federal trial of California's Prop. 8 and first-hand interviews, "8" shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play."
When? June 4, '12
Where? Woolly Mammoth Theatre
Why? Theatre as an agent for social change is one of the things I love to experience.
Well? This was essentially a staged reading of portions of the court transcripts and it did make for a riveting narrative. I would have liked a bit more production value and a more consistent level of talent in the cast, but that's not really the point :). It does give such a poignant reality to what it means to love someone and be told there's something undesirable about that love.
First You Dream: The Music of Kander and Ebb
What? From the show website: "Come hear the music play in First You Dream: The Music of Kander and Ebb, a celebration of the songwriting team who created Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Zorba, and many more hits. Directed by Eric Schaeffer and featuring a 23-piece orchestra conducted by Jon Kalbfleisch and a cast of bright Broadway stars--Heidi Blickenstaff (The Little Mermaid), James Clow (Assassins), Alan H. Green (Sister Act),Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair), Patina Miller (Sister Act), and Matthew Scott (Jersey Boys)--the musical revue covers the five-decade partnership of legendary songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb. This "sure-footed and silky-throated" (The Washington Post) showcase includes "The Cell Block Tango," "Maybe This Time," "Ring Them Bells," "Sing Happy," "Razzle Dazzle," and other memorable songs."
When? June '12
Where? The Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Why? The cast is fantastic and I love Kander and Ebb...
Well? A lovely evening of fantastic songs performed by six very charismatic actor/singers. Heidi Blickenstaff is a true treasure and I will seek out opportunities to see her on stage~gorgeous voice, great comic timing and a twinkling personality that makes you want to make her your best girlfriend immediately. I really enjoyed the way the songs were woven together; and there's something nice about having the orchestra on stage.
Beauty and the Beast
What? From the show website: "Disney’s Beauty and the Beast features the animated film’s Academy Award®-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice. The book is written by Linda Woolverton.The original creators of the Broadway production are together again for this new touring production! The play is directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West, with Costume Design by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony Award® winner for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Lighting Design by Natasha Katz, Scenic Design by Stanley A. Meyer, Sound Design by John Petrafesa Jr. and Music Supervision by Michael Kosarin. Director Rob Roth: “....The theme of ‘Beauty’ is about seeing past the exterior into the heart of someone, and this is reflected in the design for the show, which is about transparency and layers, seeing past one thing and into another.”
When? June '12
Where? The Warner Theater, Washington DC
Why? Shockingly, I did not see this during its Broadway run and am seriously looking forward to seeing it with my niece.
Well? There were things I liked about the show: the set, the songs (of course :)) and some real talent in the cast. I still have problems not seeing this as somewhere in between a theme park staging and a Broadway caliber show. Of all the Disney theatrical productions I've seen, this is the least satisfying for me. That said, it was the very first Disney theatrical production and paved the way for some amazing theater that came after (Lion King; Mary Poppins; Newsies)...
Once (4th time, 1st with friend)
What? From the show website: "once is the celebrated new musical based on the Academy Award®-winning film. It tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaborationevolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, once is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty... and unforgettable in every way."
When? June 22, '12
Where? The Bernard Jacobs Theatre
Why? Friend wanted to see it. I wanted to see it again...and again. :)
Well? This is one show that works its magic each time I go. Every single character from the leads to the supporting players has an impact on my heart. Somehow each feels fully developed with a complete story; and I care about all of them. The music and movement (the term that Steve Kazee, the Tony-winning actor who plays "Guy," says they use to refer to the choreography in the show) are lovely and haunting and hopeful, and I will never tire of hearing those opening strains.
Newsies (2nd time, 1st with friend)
What? From playbill.com: "Based upon the real-life New York City newsboy strike of 1899, this high-energy musical tells the story of a band of teenaged newspaper boys who become unlikely heroes when they take on the biggest names in publishing. Their battle for justice and fair pay rocks the city of New York and sparks a movement for social change."
When? June 23, '12
Where? Nederlander Theatre
Why? Was happy to see this again with my friend, and I'm guessing it won't be the last time.
Well? Every bit as much fun the second time around. It is just amazing to watching this caliber of triple-threat talent on stage. It's the best dancing on Broadway right now, and I love the way the massive, multi-level, industrial set is used in the choreography (watch for the part that involves a synchronized tossing of newspaper bundles up and across the various levels of the set!!). And I really do love the songs...these are tunes you'll be humming long after.
Peter and the Starcatcher (2nd time, 1st with friend)
What? Based on the book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson about an orphan without even a name to call his own, who becomes Peter Pan, and the hilarious, touching characters and events that make that happen.
When? June 23 '12
Where? The Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Why? This is a magical show that I would see many more times if given the opportunities. The fact that my friend wanted to see it made it a no-brainer.
Well? This performance, one of Christian Borle's (as Black Stache, the "Captain Hook" character) last shows, included one of the longest audience laughs I've ever experienced. I particularly loved sharing this show with the friend I knew would absolutely adore it. This show is truly one of the most delightfully quirky, wildly entertaining, emotionally authentic shows I've ever seen.
Sleep No More
What? From playbill.com: Completed in 1939, the McKittrick Hotel was intended to be New York City's finest and most decadent luxury hotel of its time. Six weeks before opening, and two days after the outbreak of World War II, the legendary hotel was condemned and left locked, permanently sealed from the public. Until now...Seventy-two years later, EMURSIVE has brought the Grande Dame back to life. Collaborating with London's award-winning PUNCHDRUNK, the legendary space is reinvented with SLEEP NO MORE, presenting Shakespeare’s classic Scottish tragedy through the lens of suspenseful film noir. Audiences move freely through a transporting world at their own pace, choosing their own path through the story, immersed in the most unique theatrical experience in the history of New York.
When? June 22, 2012
Why? I had read enough to know that this would be a truly unusual and unexpected theatre event. I'm always up for trying something new.
Well? Hmmmm...interesting. Completely unique experience. Not sure it was completely successful for me though. From a practical standpoint, wearing a mask continuously is challenging, particularly if you wear glasses, and I found that my lack of height made it difficult to get a meaningful view of the action as the other
Godspell (final matinee performance of the show)
When? June 24, 2012
Where? Circle in the Square Theatre
Why? I took a chance on the lottery for this final matinee and it paid off in pillow seats. Perfect and made the decision for me.
Well? It was emotional to say good bye to this show. I'd already said "good bye" to two of the original cast members in their final performances and it felt right to say a final farewell. I was glad to share it with a friend and it was great to sit in "pillow seating." The highlight was Hunter Parrish, in NYC for the final weekend of the show, making a cameo walk-on appearance. The show lost nothing for me over the 9 months I went to various performances and this final show for me was no different. I still laughed, cried and yearned to sing along. This production of Godspell will live forever in my heart. And in my purse, where I keep finding stray pieces of silver confetti :).
Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Final Performance)
When? June 24, '12
Where? The Palace Theater
Why? I simply could not miss the closing night performance. This show touched my heart and the heart of every single person I brought with me over the several times I saw the show. I have never not seen all three of the phenomenally talented leads and have really grown to love their performances and the characters they portray.
Well? The love in that theatre will stay with me for a very long time. The audience was clearly filled with avid fans of the show and of the cast, and as much joy and heart as the cast could offer was returned to them in spades from the crowd. Priscilla is about finding the best in yourself and in life and in those you love and as the crowd sang "We Belong Together" along with Tick, Felicia and Bernadette, you knew it was true. The laughs were louder and longer; the tears were rampant in the audience; the cast seemed to be savoring every minute on stage and I wouldn't have changed a thing. This was the kind of group experience that makes live theatre worth every cent.
Mr. Burns A Post-Electric Play
What? From the show website: "Armageddon has struck and the grid is down: no TV, no radio, no internet—how will life go on? For one group of tenacious survivors, sitting around a fire and reminiscing about The Simpsons proves to be the greatest escape from despair. Miraculously, from their collective memories, a new industry struggles to be born: a crude theatrical re-creation of the digital culture we can’t possibly live without.The Simpsons to the pop hits of the last ten years, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is a rocking, rollicking, scary good time that leaves you questioning how you’d make sense of the world if all your gizmos were gone."
Where? Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington DC
When? June 23, 2012
Why? This one I chose because of multiple glowing tweets from people who'd seen it. Plus, as with many shows, this was a venue I was ashamed to say I hadn't been to and wanted to remedy that miss.
Well? The cast of this show was filled to the brim with talent. It was an exceptionally polished production, and while I liked the first act more than the second, the premise was fascinating and I was willing to go along for the ride. I am always thrown for a loop in dark comedies when the mood suddenly shifts from hilarity to chaos and violence, as it did at the end of the first act; but it was quite well done. The "play" violence in the second act was a bit distracting to me and I think absent the notes in the program, I would not have understood how we had arrived at this point, which is why I preferred the first act.