It wasn’t designed this way, but suddenly Bunty Berman Presents…—well, Bunty Berman. Since the fifth preview of this loony, tune-y movie spoof, an insert has been stuffed into the show’s program announcing in the bluntest boldface possible that “The role of Bunty Berman is being played by Ayub Khan Din”—and not just “at this performance,” either. Forever and a day, it would seem. Read More
The set for A Family for All Occasions, a new play from the small Labyrinth Theater Company, is a wonder. In the tiny Bank Street Theater, where Bob Glaudini’s darkly comic drama opened Sunday night, David Meyer has built a finely detailed, deeply lived-in re-creation of a working-class family’s front room—dining table and chairs, lounger, workbench in a corner, books and tchotchkes on the shelves—in what the program tells us is a midsize Northeastern city. But the remarkable moments come, in this cramped and low-ceilinged room, when first a side wall and then, later, a back one slide away to reveal other rooms of the home. They’re unexpected discoveries, these additional spaces, and impressive, enjoyable flourishes. Read More
Richard Nelson, Tony-winning book writer, Obie-winning playwright and former Yale Drama playwriting chair, is today best known for his ongoing saga about the Apple family. Each year for four years, culminating this fall, he has brought a new play to the Public Theater about a close-knit, articulate, politically aware family from Rhinebeck, N.Y., each play premiering on a historically significant date and set on the day it debuts. (The final installment will open on Nov. 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.) These lauded plays, about the hopes and frustrations of liberal-leaning New Yorkers in the age of Obama, tend to unfold during a long family meal; there is well-wrought discussion, subtle revelation and layered character development, but typically little action. Read More
The Tony Award nominees have been announced, and now it’s time to look back, reflect and start placing bets on the best plays, musicals and performances. Here’s what The Observer thought of this year’s contenders.
Leave your fields to flower, leave your cheese to sour. In her new revival of Pippin, which opened at the Music Box last week, director Diane Paulus really does have some magic to do (whether or not it’s just for you). And if you have any fondness for musical theater—in this case, deliriously joyful, gorgeously staged, unexpectedly moving musical theater—you’ll want to join her for this colorful, acrobatic, magical indeed interpretation of Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s anecdotic revue.
Doodle-ee-do. Read More
“If you build it—and give them vodka—they will come.”
That appears to be the game plan behind the May 1 grand opening of Kazino, a new theatrical venue at West 13th and Washington Streets in the Meatpacking District. The place comes with a ready-made show—an electropop opera by Dave Malloy, based on “a 70-page sliver” of War and Peace, called Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812—and a design to meet the specific needs of that play.
It’s the same set Mr. Malloy had when the show appeared last fall at the Ars Nova theater in Hell’s Kitchen—the same banquettes and table seating and wraparound bars—but it’s double the size. “It’s a bit more lush and ritzier than what we had before,” Mr. Malloy told The Observer. Read More
Strings Attached: Back From Retirement, Richard Foreman Brings His Ontological Hysteria, and Old-Fashioned Prostitutes, to the Public
One morning last month at the Public Theater, Richard Foreman was having trouble with rage. On a stage crowded with pillows, stuffed animals and string, an actor droned through a monotone monologue. He made it halfway through before Mr. Foreman, the last standard-bearer of the 1970s avant-garde, stopped him in the middle of a line about “incalculable rage.”
“What’s another word for rage?” Mr. Foreman asked the room. “Rage sounds weak.”
“Fury?” suggested the actors. “Ire? Wrath?”
“Maybe it needs another leading word. Not incalculable rage. Black rage?” Read More
In I’ll Eat You Last, Bette Midler Gives Raucous If One-Dimensional Take on Hollywood Super-Agent Sue Menger
Aside from the fact that she doesn’t sing, the only trepidation I’ve encountered about Bette Midler’s sensational one-woman show I’ll Eat You Last, about the sassy, splashy, tart-tongued Hollywood super-agent Sue Mengers, is the concern that the Divine Miss M might be playing a colorful “insider” so obscure that the general public has Read More
Tales of Sound and Fury: Here Lies Love Is Mesmerizing, Bountiful Has a Big Heart, Fiona Shaw’s Testament Is Riveting and Alan Cumming Gives a Tour de Force Macbeth
Bad news, Bette. Celebrity actors are bustin’ out all over the Theater District this spring, but it turns out the must-see event of the season is at the Public Theater, where Here Lies Love, David Byrne’s clubland pop opera on the life of Imelda Marcos, opened last night. Already twice extended, this is a show that will be bringing town cars down Lafayette Street till it closes.
Mr. Byrne, the erstwhile Talking Head, began with a song cycle about Mrs. Marcos, the ambitious and high-living wife of Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Hers is a compelling story, and an inherently theatrical one: a middle-class woman who reached the heights of wealth and power, a devoted political wife devastated by news of her husband’s adultery, an acquisitive Machiavelli who ran the country while her husband was ill. That the jet-setting Mrs. Marcos liked to hang out in disco-era hot spots provided a genre: Mr. Byrne’s album is inspired by ’70s and ’80s dance music. The producer Fatboy Slim provided beats, singers like Cyndi Lauper, Nellie McKay and Sharon Jones provided vocals, and Mr. Byrne’s Here Lies Love—the title is the epitaph Mrs. Marcos has requested for her grave—was released in 2009. It’s not a defense of Mrs. Marcos, an indictment or even a documentary; mostly, it’s an emotional record of her life. Read More
Seeking her next show, Boston-based director Diane Paulus, who has been making a name for herself reimagining classic American musicals, ran through her mental catalog of the musicals she loved. After she did her revival of Hair in 2011, she said, “Pippin was always at the top of the list.” It went on the back burner for a few years while she directed The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which ended its Broadway run in 2012. “It gave me time to think about the physical production I wanted for Pippin,” she said. “I knew a revival would really need to have a physical vocabulary that touched the Fosse style but then also took it to a new place.” That new place, as audiences will discover when the show opens on April 25 at the Music Box Theatre, is the circus. Read More