Friday, April 29, 2011

April Ends on a Royal Note

New York City Stage launched only two short weeks ago. So much has happened since then. Productions continue to open and close and we are reminded of the business behind the art with a production such as Sleep No More which is selling out as I write this entry while a production such as High is forced to close due to low ticket sales. However, playwrights, producers, and audiences are committed to the theater and good stuff awaits us all. 

So, already lined up for May are the following.
  1. Knock Good People off my Hot List since the reviews have been consistently favorable.
  2. Take in The Dream of the Burning Boy after Reed Birney was nominated for a Drama League Award.
  3. Finish up the Tony Kushner season at the Signature Theatre Company with The Illusion. While I was completely engrossed in the revival of Angels in America, I could not connect with any of the characters in The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Let's see what happens with The Illusion
  4. Sway to Million Dollar Quartet for no other reason than the fact that I like rock 'n' roll and it just looks like a good time. 
Many thanks again to the New York City Stage blog well wishers and have a royal day.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    When You Durst Do "Sleep No More" Then You Are a Theatergoer

    Art installation? Performance art? Call it what you will - Punchdrunk's Sleep No More was a clever, worthwhile and fascinating evening.

    After three extra sensory hours of running along the the dark and sometimes creepy corridors of the McKittrick Hotel, trying to take in the excruciatingly detailed set (no way you can make it through the reported 100 rooms of this hotel in one evening) and observing a cast of performers (a hybrid of actors and dancers), tonight I lay my head down to sleep knowing that I will continue the the dream that is Sleep No More.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    I Can Barely Sleep Waiting to "Sleep No More"

    A few days ago I wrote about Punchdrunk's Sleep No More at the "The McKittrick Hotel" which is really a Chelsea warehouse converted into 100 rooms of pure theater pleasure. The reviews have been "bloody" great and the images and interactives on the New York Times website have me tossing and turning all night.

    So, I've read the NY Post's and Gothamist tips, I am brushing up on my Macbeth, I've mentally prepared myself that I must leave my baggage (I mean purse) at home, and ... 3 days, I Sleep No More.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Seance Levitates in Person but Gets Buried in the Press

    Seance on a Wet Afternoon composed by the respected Stephen Schwartz (you know, the man behind Wicked ) took a beating in the press (NY Times, ABC, WSJ) this week. Besides being an opera technically, I suspect that it won't be making TONY's 25 Best Film-to-Musical Adaptations any time soon.

    I experienced Seance on a Wet Afternoon on opening night at the New York City Opera and enjoyed the somber performances and staging and appreciated the chances it took. For me, the lengthy and thunderous applause on opening night and the subsequent cold reviews just don't add up.  

    Personally, I would take a chance on this accessible, dark suspenseful operatic thriller.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    High Sinks

    Wow, last rites for High, which is closing after only a few short weeks at the Booth Theatre. The numbers were poor during previews and the outlook was not hopeful after opening night earlier this week.  The business of Broadway can be brutal!!

    Week End
    Avg Paid
    4/17/2011$91,020 79.25%$18.41
    4/10/2011$99,292 50.66%$31.41
    4/3/2011$94,829 59.74%$25.44
    3/27/2011$58,791 61.76%$30.51
    Gross Source: The Broadway League

    High stars Kathleen Turner as a tough nun - Sister Jamison Connelly - who counsels a drug addicted teenager.  Of course, the teen has issues - son of a prostitute addict, raped as a boy, becomes a hustler. He is already dead inside and has no intentions of getting clean, but foul mouthed Sister Jamison, who has demons of her own (isn't that how it always is) makes an attempt.  Does Sister Jamison succeed?  Perhaps, it does not matter at this point because High has failed on Broadway.

    Theater for the Senses (I Can't Get Enough)

    I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Room 17B at 59E59 Theaters and Play Dead at The Player's Theater.  My special mentions for Quarter 1 (2011) played to my senses in a way that the typical musical or drama does not. 

    So, you can only imagine how excited I was when I began to read the reviews for Sleep No More at the "The McKittrick Hotel". I immediately purchased a (eh-hem) full price ticket for later in the month.  This one will definitely sell out.

    Here are excerpts from some of the reviews for Sleep No More.

    "You don't just sit back, relax and enjoy the show: You stand up and walk through it.
    Incorporating installation art, performance, dance, theater and a choose-your-own-adventure game, 'Sleep No More' lets the audience roam freely over the six floors of Chelsea's McKittrick Hotel."

    "'ve never experienced anything quite like "Sleep No More," an immense, nonlinear and sensory-based theatrical experience. It combines narrative elements of "Macbeth" with aspects of Hitchcockian noir, modern dance, masquerade and a haunted house.

    "Confused? Excited? Weirded out? Scared to bits? Those are just some of the natural reactions to the 'Macbeth'-inspired immersive theatre experience that opened Thursday in New York's Chelsea section."

    "An unimpaired sense of balance and depth perception is crucial to attending 'Sleep No More,' which leads its audience on a merry, macabre chase up and down stairs, and through minimally illuminated, furniture-cluttered rooms and corridors. The creative team here has taken on the duties of messing with your head, which they do just as thoroughly as any artificial stimulant."

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park – Excellence Inspires Excellence

    I am thrilled to see that Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park is the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. According to the Pulitzer Prize's Website the play is “a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America's sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.”

    Fortunate for me, I was able to see Clybourne Park at Playwright Horizons last year. Definitely one of the best productions of the year (perhaps it will come to Broadway??).

    How clever that this play follows up on another excellent play - Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sunwhich gets its title from an excellent poem by the great Langston Hughes – A Dream Deferred.

    I guess you can say that excellence inspires excellence.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Two Scottish Plays

    It’s not every day that you see a production, which hails from across the old pond in Scotland. That is why I find it interesting that I’ve seen two Scottish productions in the span of a month. 

    Most recently, I caught The Promise at 59E59 Theaters. The reviews were mixed on this production; however, I appreciated Joanna Tope’s non-stop performance in this one-person production about a teacher (Maggie Brodie) who comes out of retirement to substitute teach in a London school for a day.  At first she appears to have it all together until slowly her demons are uncovered. Isn’t that how it always is? At the end of the performance, as Joanna Tope caught her breath and bowed, I sighed, exhausted along with her.

    And last month, I trekked out to Dumbo to see yet another Scottish production - Beautiful Burnout at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Reminiscent in some ways of the film Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood, Beautiful Burnout while not original was visually appealing to watch. 

    Overall, I was happy to see Scotland represented in the New York theater scene and look forward to more in the future.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Quick Theater Reviews

    There are a few sites I like to go to on an ongoing basis for quick theater reviews:

    Did He Like It 
    Did He Like It provides a nice summary of New York Times critic Ben Brantley’s theater reviews.  What takes this site up a notch is that it also incorporates summaries/links of reviews from other critics from news outlets such as the New York Post and USA Today.  Did He Like It covers Broadway and Off Broadway productions and provides links to purchase theater tickets at a discount.

    NY1 Theater Reviews 
    NY1 Theater Reviews provide a concise audio review of certain Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Somehow, they manage to provide a lot of content in their 2:00 minute theater clips.

    Many Off and Off Off Broadway shows seem to go un-reviewed.  I guess that there just isn’t sufficient time to keep up with them all.  Theater is Easy is one of the few sites I’ve found which provides reviews of smaller productions.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Will My Love Song Fade?

    I took my seat in the corner of Theater A at a recent performance of Love Song at 59E59 Theaters. I sat among a group of seniors. On the other side of the theater, there appeared to be a large group of high school girls. As the play progressed, the young girls laughed and overall enjoyed the show. The seniors around me on the other hand did not appear to be having as good a time.  The gentleman next to me looked at his watch over and over, anxiously waiting for the 90 minute play with no intermission to come to an end.  At one point, the woman he was with leaned over and (I suspect) asked if they should leave.  But how do you leave such a small theater without disrupting everyone. They stayed until the end.

    I must admit that it took me a few minutes to warm up to Love Song, but somewhere along the 90 minute journey I became hooked.  I was drawn into - not Harry and Joan's world - but Beane's loneliness and then his coming alive. At the end of the performance, I left the theater recalling how refreshing the possibility of love could be and overall optimistic. However, now a few days later, I can't help but recall the disparity between the young girls' reaction and those of the seniors and wonder if my optimism will eventually fade....

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Did I Win the Lottery???

    The Book of Mormon Lottery
     While running errands yesterday, I popped over to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to try my hand at The Book of Mormon lottery. The reviews for this production by the creators of South Park have been on fire!!!  

    I didn't win the Mormon lottery. That happens. However, if you are an avid theater fan like me, you will try again.  Theater going can get quite expensive; rush and lottery tickets help contain the costs.

    I've seen a number of shows this way including Wicked, Chicago, Rent, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and The Color Purple. I usually try my lottery luck when the weather is not so good since less people tend to show up. provides a good summary of Broadway’s rush, lottery and standing room only policies.  Here is the link to check out: Rush and Lottery Tickets

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    West 45th Street or Hollywood Blvd?

    Heading west of Broadway on 45th Street, I cannot help but notice a curious amount of Hollywood names on the marquis.  Lets see: 

    First, we have Kathleen Turner in High at the Booth Theatre.

    Then we have Chris Rock in The Mother______ With the HatYes, I know that Annabella Sciorra is also in the play. But honestly, unless something changed between the previews and opening night, there was really no meat to her role.

    As we move down the block, we have That Championship Season at the Jacobs Theatre.  Here, we have some very serious looking actors including Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Noth.

     Finally, we cross over 8th Avenue and we see the adorable - Harry Potter oh I'm sorry - Daniel Radcliffe at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Quarter One Theater Roundup!!

    For the first quarter of 2011, my top three theater experiences are:

    1. Nixon in China: First of all, many thanks to The Metropolitan Opera for their lottery program. I do not go to the opera often but what an experience to see their grand productions. I was fortunate enough to catch this wonderful production including the plane, the music, the dancing, and that dreamlike finale. 

    2. Driving Miss Daisy: I can think of no better way to spend the afternoon than at the theater with my mother watching veteran actors James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in this fine production about friendship and aging.

    3. Colin Quinn: Long Story Short: This production - more a stand up routine than anything else - was crisp and funny.  A great production for history buffs with a sense of humor.

    Special mention to Room 17B and Play Dead for brining out my inner child.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    The Theater is like "Classical Music"

    I can't help but nod my head as I read a quote by Chris Rock in New York Metro "When you do stand up or even a movie, it's like jazz music. With a play, it's the world of the playwright...It's classical music as opposed to jazz." 

    Speaking of jazz, I spotted Terence Blanchard entering the Schoenfeld theater on the first night of previews for The Mother_______ With the Hat and told him that I dug his music.  He replied that he hoped that I enjoyed the music in the performance.  With such an amazing jazz musician working on the play, I expected the music to make more of an impact; however, I must admit that it did not. Profanity, hollywood stars, the colorful Yul Vázquez as Cousin Julio and even the interesting spinning stage overshadowed the music.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Introduction to the New York City Stage Blog

    Anyone who knows me knows that I love the theater.  When I was a little girl, my mother took me to see a flashy Broadway musical.  I was completely bedazzled by the performance.  Ever since then, I have been hooked, hooked, hooked. For me, it is the ultimate escape to lose myself watching the best theatrical productions in the world (no disrespect West End).  Then, I love humming a musical piece or pondering a particular actor's performance as I make my way home or go for a night cap.

    This blog is about my experiences attending the theater in New York City. I plan to share how I decide what to see, how I afford it, what I love about what I see, and what annoys me.  I want to explore playwrights, theaters and production companies where possible.  I am not a critic, writer or professional in the arts.  I am simply a girl from Brooklyn who loves to go to the theater.