Friday, July 18, 2008

Week in Review

Monday: Ricky Gervais at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden: Hilarious, of course. His stand-up comedy performance is a little bit The Office's David Brent, in that he is politically incorrect, a little bit Extras' Andy Millman, in that he makes it seem as if he doesn't mean to be, the words are just coming out wrong. I was disappointed that there were no special guests (apparently last time David Bowie introduced Gervais). Maybe if he didn't spend the money on the big bright letters that spelled out RICKY. The show felt a little short for how much it cost, but still worth it.

Tuesday: Some Americans Abroad at the Second Stage Theatre, directed by Gordon Edelstein: The plot summary on the website mislead me into expecting a comedy about partying college students, but it was actually about the professors and the innerworkings of the English department and it wasn't that much of a comedy. I liked the play itself and some of the performances, but I wasn't a fan of the production. There wasn't so much a set as tables and chairs that would be moved to the back of the room after each scene, resulting in a cluttered mess at the end. I was very impressed with Tom Cavenaugh, who came into the production at the last minute, and gave a very compelling performance. I find Second Stage to be very hit or miss. See below for a hit.

Wednesday: Jay Brannan at the Highline Ballroom: Loved it. I'm reviewing this for

Thursday: Animals Out of Paper at the Second Stage Uptown, directed by Giovanna Sardelli: I wasn't a huge fan of the only other show I've seen at Second Stage Uptown, Len Asleep in Vynl, so I didn't have high hopes for this one. But, wow, this was the highlight of my week that included seeing my favorite comedian and an amazing concert. The play was both hilarious and moving and the characters were well-developed and likeable, despite their many faults. Kellie Overbey plays Ilana, an origami artist who just went through a divorce and lost her dog. A teacher named Andy, played by the hilarious and heartbreaking Jeremy Shamos, visits her unexpectedly and asks her to mentor his genius student, Suresh, played by Utkarsh Ambudkar, who brilliantly captured every nuance of his character.

Saturday: Mamma Mia! (the movie), directed by Phyllida Lloyd: Full disclosure: I really enjoy the stage musical. It may be cheesy, but it's a lot of fun, and never tries to be more than what it is, which is why I think it's the jukebox musical that succeeds most at being a jukebox musical. The movie was also fun and not as much of a disappointment as I thought it would be. Only a few songs were cut and only a few scenes changed. It works better on stage, in a movie it just looks too cheesy, but I was impressed that most of the actors pulled off their roles. I've never liked Meryl Streep (sorry A.O. Scott). I found that she overacts, but I didn't hate her in this. I found Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper to be charming.

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