Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Another Year at the Theater

Through twisters, hurricanes, Olympics and campaigning that took place this year, I went to the theater taking in well over a 100 plays musicals, cabarets and other live shows in 2012. For someone who doesn't work in the Arts, that is a lot of theatergoing (the Broadway League calls me a devoted fan). Some would say a bit obsessive and (who am I kidding) yes they would be correct. But that along with the recent flops and disappointments on Broadway won't stop me from trudging through the theater district or to some way Off Broadway theater every 2.5 days to experience some piece of artistry, completely grateful that I live in the most amazing city in the world. 

Now, my 2012 theatergoing was a mish-mosh of experiences (see Roll for full listing). But if I had to isolate a few themes/thoughts other than theater renovations and increase in the number of wonderful plays with music I saw, they would be the following: 

Established Playwrights Were Disappointing
Last year, the actor-playwright was a bore and the black female playwright rocked. This year? The established playwright was disappointing. David Mamet's The Anarchist closed after 17 regular performances. Apparently, Patti LuPone and Debra Winger couldn't hold an audience captive for this 70 minute prison conversation. 

Theresa Rebeck exited TV show Smash after only one season. Now her underdeveloped Dead Accounts is receiving lukewarm reviews on Broadway. I wonder if this one will even make it to February. Not turning out to be a stellar year for Ms. Rebeck. 

Finally, can someone please explain to me what Sam Shepard's Heartless was about? Honestly, I still don't know. 

What disappoinments!!

Enough With the Chekhov Already
I love the Russian playwright (1860-1904) but enough already. But I suppose we won't get enough until Chekhov champion Classic Stage Company says that we've had enough. Let's see: this season: the depressive Ivanov; 2011/2012 season: The Cherry Orchard; 2010/2011 season: Three Sisters; 2008/2009 season: Uncle Vanya and 2007/2008 season: The Seagull. 

Then there was Chekhovek based on Chekhov's short stories and last month at BAM "circus" show Donka: A Letter to Chekhov. Yada, yada, yada

But let's get back to good old Uncle Vanya. Since it appears that too much time passed since CSC graced the New York City stage with their production of the 1897 classic, the Sydney Theatre Company decided to do so with their version set in the 1950s and Soho Rep also did the same with their version. And now, Christopher Durang has conjured the dead playwright in his Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike now playing off Broadway at Lincoln Center. 

Have you had enough of the depression and boredom yet?

Women, We Really Can't Have It All 
Anne-Marie Slaughter's The Atlantic article Why Women Still Can't Have It All may have sparked numerous debates on the internet six months ago. But it was Gina Gionfriddo's play Rapture, Bliss, Burn that sparked the conversation for me back in June. Recently while sitting through a performance of Ruth & Augustus Goetz's The Heiress, I shook my head cynically. Oh Catherine Sloper, even with your $30K annual purse (a nice sum in 1850), true love, family, and purpose remain out of your reach. 

Final point on this subject: Women - professional and otherwise, old and new - cannot have it all.

Cabaret is Still Alive and Better Than Before
With the Oak Room closing, some wondered whether NY's classic cabaret scene was fading. But that all went away when the new 54 Below opened up in Midtown. With its convenient location, elegant but not stuffy ambiance, and top notch acts, theatergoers can get their cabaret fix any night of the week. And with periodic discounts from Goldstar, you might just be able to afford to do so (notwithstanding the $300 tickets being charged for Patti LuPone's New Year's Eve show

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