M Butterfly - quick take

Beautiful, yet sparse.  Simple, yet complex.  The new production of avid Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, currently in previews at the Cort Theatre, are these and more.  Directed by Julie Taymor (Lion King, Spiderman Turn off the Dark) this production uses multiple panels as the only backdrops and set pieces, putting more focus on the stellar acting taking place on stage.

This is a story of a French Diplomat that falls in love with a Chinese Opera singer while working in China.  The action starts with the Diplomat recalling over the and over the details that led him to be imprisoned in his home country.

Clive Owen passionately plays the French Diplomat, Renee Gallimard who may be imprisoned in his own mind.  Jin Ha plays his butterfly and obsession, Song Liling, with grace and ferocity.  

I recommend beautifully presented update to a classic that will make you think twice about perceptions and reality.



Hamilton...it's all that and more

The current Mecca for Theatre Zealots

The current Mecca for Theatre Zealots

Maybe you have heard of this little show called Hamilton.  It started at The Public Theatre, sold out almost every show and was basically called up to the big leagues (Broadway) and had now garnered a record setting 16 Tony nominations.  So is this show as good as the hype?  Is it worth thousands of dollars for one ticket in the Orchestra?  If you are asking me, I say a resounding YES.

In all honesty I come from a Musical Theatre background graduating with a BA in Theatre.  Because of my profession I have had the luxury of seeing many shows on Broadway and some off-Broadway. I do remember seeing Mr. Miranda's "In The Heights" and while not loving it, thinking it was quite good and fresh in comparison to a lot of the other new shows at the time.  But, Hamilton, nothing rivals it and I feel sorry for any new show that is going to open in the near future.  The bar has been set extremely high.

If I could have learned history this way all the time I would have paid a lot more attention.  The music and acting is full of passion.  The performances show deft skills by the actors in realm of rap music.  I think think the fact that this style of music is so out of left field typically for a subject matter like this is part of it's allure.  

Before I was able to see it I listened to the soundtrack and could tell right away this was a game changer.  Do whatever you can to see the show, you will not be disappointed. 

Wow...what a show!

Wow...what a show!


Broadway's Best Bet

I have just witnessed greatness on Broadway and it is rotten.  "Something Rotten" to be exact; the new musical from people responsible for The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Aladdin.  Currently in previews at the St. James Theater, this is a show for people that love musicals, people that hate musicals, musical nerds  and for people with no opinion about anything.  

It is the story of two brothers in the 1590's and their struggle to make a big entertainment hit with Shakespeare as their main rival for success.  I am not going to give anymore away as  this is something that must be witnessed in person to fully enjoy.  I will only say that the show does a brilliant job of not taking itself or the Broadway industry as a whole too seriously, which is why I think it will be such a success. 

Everything in the show is top-notch.  From the costumes, to the sets, to clever songs  and references, and the performances.  The cast is led by Brian D'Arcy James (Shrek, Macbeth) and John Cariani (Fiddler on the Roof) as the two brothers, Nick & Nigel Bottom (ergo the inside jokes start).  There is also Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher, Spamalot) who does a fantastically campy turn as The Bard himself,  Shakespeare, the current rock star of the time.   The supporting cast are just as strong as the leads and equally hilarious in their role, notably Brad Oscar as Nostradamus and Brooks Ashmanskas as Brother Jeremiah.

This show is an absolute breath of fresh air and will be the surprise hit of the season.  If I have to nag, I think the first act is stronger than the second in that it seems better paced and more fluid, but it is in previews so there may yet be changes.  I am looking forward to seeing it again once it has opened and I can't wait to share my experience with my guests and friends.



FUN Home on Broadway

Fun Home on Broadway just recently started previews at the Circle in the Square Theatre.  After a sold out run at the Public Theater, this musical tells the the coming of age story of a girl and the father that helped shape her life.  This show based on an acclaimed graphic novel memoir is strongly emotional both in performance and content.  It is performed "In The round" which works towards the whole life in a fishbowl aspect.  We, the audience, are invited into this intimate look at a family about to rip apart at the seams.

I do not want to give anything away so I will only say the obvious.  The performances were fantastic all around from acclaimed Michael Cerveris as the father down to the  youngest member of the family.  The set was perfect and afforded great views from any seat.  

This is not your big, splashy, lights on Broadway show...But if you are looking for an inspiring show full of substance and feeling, check out the Fun Home.