Thursday, January 31, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
The Heiress is closing on February 9, and I made it in just under the wire. I hadn't heard great things about this revival, so I thought about skipping it, but I'm glad I didn't because then I wouldn't have been introduced to Ruth and Augustus Goetz's entertaining and moving 1947 play. (I'd never seen the play or movie.)

Based on Washington Square by Henry James, the play is about shy Catherine Sloper (Jessica Chastain), who is a constant disappointment to her father, Dr. Austin Sloper (David Straithairn), because she cannot live up to his memory of her mother. Morris Townsend (Dan Stevens), a handsome but poor man, takes a liking to her, but her father suspects he is after her money. It's really a stretch to think of Chastain as a plain girl who no one would ever want to marry for anything other than money, even with a bad wig.

I don't want to reveal anything for those who haven't seen it, but I think it's a testament to the play that it really is a mystery for the audience as to whether or not Morris loves Catherine. I also think it's just as much about whether Dr. Sloper loves his daughter (I believe he does, despite the cruel things he says to her). I suppose it's saying something about this production, directed by Moises Kaufman, that I left not thinking about the performances (with the exception of Judith Ivey as Catherine's Aunt Penniman), but about how invested I was in the story.

I'm curious whether those of you who have seen it who weren't familiar with the play were as taken by it as I was. Also, are there any other productions that were criticized for not being as good as past productions, but that introduced you to plays that you liked?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Contest: Win Tickets To All The Rage

Update: The contest is now closed. The winner was picked at random. Congratulations @rebeccamfeldman!

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Martin Moran's new one-man show All The Rage. If you've seen his Obie-winning The Tricky Part, also directed by Seth Barrish, you know that Moran has a casual approach that makes you feel like you're sitting in his living room. That play was about being sexually abused by a camp counselor. This play is not exactly a sequel, but it does explore a question he was frequently asked after The Tricky Part--where was his anger?

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
I am giving away a pair of tickets to All The Rage. I have been a fan of Moran since seeing him in the first show I ever saw on Broadway, Titanic. In order to win, leave a comment on this post telling me your first Broadway show. For an extra entry, tweet about the contest or retweet one of my tweets about it. A winner will be chosen at random from all the entries on Wednesday, January 30 at 6:00 p.m. Please include your e-mail address or Twitter handle in the comments so I have a way to contact you if you win. Good luck!

If you don't win and you still want to see the show, I encourage you to attend on February 6 or February 17, which will benefit the Refugee & Immigrant Fund (a large part of the show is about Moran's decision to become a translator for asylum seekers).

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

So far, this Broadway season is all about the revivals. Every new play or musical that opened in the fall closed prematurely, most with good reason. But of all the revivals, the production that comes closest to perfection is Roundabout Theatre Company's The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a revival of a 1985 musical by Rupert Holmes based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. The show is set in a Victorian music hall--you are transported there as soon as you enter Studio 54, with the posters lining the hall and the ushers in period dress--where an ensemble of actors is putting on their version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Edwin Drood (Stephanie J. Block in fine voice) is a young man betrothed to Rosa Bud (the lovely Betsy Wolfe) from a young age, but they both want the chance to find love for themselves. When Drood is murdered, the most obvious suspect might seem to be his uncle, John Jasper (a deliciously dastardly Will Chase), who is in love with Rosa, but because the novel was never finished, it is up to the audience to decide on three aspects of the ending, including who is the murderer.

The show is so perfectly cast that it would be impossible to single out any actors, but I would like to mention Alison Cimmet, who did a fantastic job of filling in for Chita Rivera on my second viewing of the show. The cast seems to be having a blast being as over-the-top as they want to be and it is just as much fun to watch from the audience. But if I still haven't convinced you that this is a show worth seeing, this video just might: