Thursday, October 14, 2010

New York State of Mind - Theater Review

New York is a great place to be a tourist (especially when you are with people who are in the know about where to go and how to do things without breaking your purse strings).  I have so much that I want to chronicle that I'm just going to focus on the shows that I saw in this post--Next to Normal and Brief Encounter.

Next to Normal  (http://www.nexttonormal.com/home) has been playing for two and a half years and has been highly acclaimed. (Ben Brantley of the NYT calls it the "bravest and most surprising musical on Broadway.")   It won three Tony Awards in 2009 (including best original score for the theater) and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  Still, I wasn't rushing to get tickets.  Was it because I knew the topic was mental illness?  Was it my general malaise about Broadway after seeing so many mediocre shows, wishing that I hadn't bothered to make the train trip in from NJ?  Who knows?  All I can say is that I am thrilled to have seen this extraordinary show.  I don't want to say any more about the story and spoil it for other theater goers, but it will make you laugh, cry and gasp.  Marin Mazzie's performance as Diana is unlike anything I've ever seen--to call it powerful does not begin to capture how compelling she is in this role (and she wasn't even the actress that won the Tony award!)  If you have the opportunity to see this show, don't miss it! 

I also caught Brief Encounter (http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/54/) at the Roundabout Theater (where I had a subscription for several years).  This show is a multi-media adaptation of the play by the same name by Noel Coward.  I'm a huge fan of Noel Coward shows (I saw Design for Living on a trip to London many years ago and remember being struck by the staging and by the sales of refreshments in the aisles of the theater during intermission!) so I was looking forward to this outing.  The show incorporates black and white film, cabaret style music and a heavy dose of melodrama.  Dorothy Atkinson was delightful in her role as Beryl, a slightly off-kilter character working in the local pub.  The play is, well, schmaltzy, but lots of fun and reminiscent in feel of the adaptation of Hitchcock's 39 Steps that the Roundabout put on last year.  While I wouldn't put this show in the "not to miss" category, you will definitely leave the theater smiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Riding with Howard Kunik, Part 2

The history tour with City Manager Howard Kunik sometimes felt like a cyclists' version of limbo as I wondered, "How slow can I go?...