Posted in #LaMama, #Macbeth, Bated Breath Theatre Company, Classic Stage Company, CSC, emerging playwright, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Kate Hamill, known playwrights, LaMama, Lucas Hnath, New York Theatre Workshop, playwright, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage Theatre, Sondheim, Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, The Flea Theater, The Mint Theatre, Will Arbery

Wish list

David Raposo & Nicole Orabona. Photo by Mia Aguirre: Unmaking of Toulouse-Lautrec

Sure, Broadway can do it bigger and splashier. It’s Off-Broadway, and its sister wife, off-off, that can take the bigger risks.

This means that, often enough, it is the offs’ productions that are the more interesting and provocative.

This is not to say that we don’t appreciate the tone and tenor of a big show, but we are inspired by what is accomplished by the off-the-main-stem houses. Sometimes, like the Tony-favored Hadestown, there is novelty and innovation, along with a touch of provocation, on the Broadway stage as well.

Some of these are the usual suspects– Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, The Mint, Classic Stage Company, New York Theatre Workshop, to name a few– who come up with exciting theater year in and year out.

Not all of these are “small” productions, of course. For instance at CSC, the artistic director, John Doyle, has slated big names Corey Stoll and Nadia Bowers to play the lead and his lady in the Scottish play. Shakespeare’s Macbeth will run this fall from October 10 through December 15. The season at the Classic will continue with  two new iterations of iconic tales of horror presented in repertory in January-March 2020: Dracula by Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Bram Stoker, and 
Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s original work, and adapted by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm. In April-June 2020, it concludes with Assassinswhich completes the trilogy of Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musicals John Doyle has staged,

Playwrights Horizons opens its main stage fall season with a play about our political dystopias. Will Arbery’s Heroes of the Fourth Turning, directed by Danya Taymor, gets its world premiere beginning September 13. Mr. Arbery is the playwright in residence for 2019-20 at PH thanks to a grant from the Tow Foundation. PH does not disappoint.

Later in the year, Lucas Hnath returns to PH with The Thin Place, beginning November 22. Consider this a Thanksgiving present from PH to you! If you are unfamiliar with this particular talent, before we saw Hnath’s The Christians at PH we were too. Then came A Doll’s House Part 2, an exceptionally imaginative reimagining of Ibsen, in which Laurie Metcalf won the 2017 Tony for Best Actress in a Play. Also on the PH bill for the 2019-20 season is a musical, An Unknown Soldier ( book and lyrics by Daniel Goldstein; music and lyrics by Michael Friedman) set to begin on Valentine’s Day. There’s more to it than just what we’ve listed, so please go to phnyc.org for more information, tickets etc etc.

Going off off the beaten path can be very rewarding. The immersive, site specific Unmaking of Toulouse-Lautrec is a kind of boheme rhapsody, and perhaps a throw-back to the Belle Epoque. This interactive production is conceived and directed by Mara Lieberman and devised by members of the Bated Breath Theatre Company . The show continues where it started in May through October 30th at Madame X in Greenwich Village, where you can imbibe cocktails along with the atmosphere of creative decadence.

Still following the path to the off off, we might stop by at The Flea to see The Invention of Tragedy, an exploration of how to tell grief by Mac Wellman. The world premiere is scheduled to run from September 7 through October 14. Or, for a limited engagement at The Tank catch the Spanish language En El Ojo de la Aguaja (In the Eye of the Needle) story of our present dystopias and how we solve them.

David Staller brings the Gingold Theatrical Group production of Shaw’s Caesar & Cleopatra to Theatre Row from September 3 through October 12. History in a Shavian warp gives us a comedy of sex, murder, intrigue. Very timely, doncha think?

LaMaMa, where it all began, in association with Theater Three Collaborative tackles the climate crisis in Other Than We, starting November 21.

Posted in dark comedy drama, Gingold Theatrical Group, Inspiration, long running Broadway musical, Long running musical, Musical drama, musicals and dramas, The Long Running AMERICAN Musical

Windy city

ChicagoGTG Everything has an origin story, and Chicago, The Musical, has one in this 1926 play.  Maurine Dallas Watkins provided the inspiration for the show that’s been running on Broadway since forever. Like it’s lead characters, Chicago had a rocky start, opening June 3, 1975 and closing two years later on August 27, 1977; it reopened in revival in November of that year in the West End and then hit Broadway with a flair. Ann Reinking, using the Fosse style, choreographed the revival under Walter Bobbie’s direction to resounding success.

Watkins wrote Chicago for a class assignment at the Yale School of Drama. It, too, went on to have a resounding success, not least because it provided the story for the musical. The story of Roxie Hart and her fellow inmates also inspired a 1927 film named Chicago and in 1942 one named after our anti-heroine. Watkins’ version of her the tale was based on her coverage on the crime beat of the Chicago Tribune, and opened on Broadway in 1926, where it lasted for just 172 performances, under the direction of George Abbott. It’s after-life is a matter of record.

The Gingold Theatrical Group (GTG) will perform the play that spurred the famous Broadway hit on Monday, July 23rd at Symphony Space at 7pm.

Posted in #dystopia, Bloom's day, Bloom's Tavern, Bloomsday, Daily Prompt, dysfunction, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Manhattan Theater Company, Origin Theatre Company, Origins Theatre Company, public performance in public spaces, Roundabout Theatre Company, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, Symphony Space, The Mint Theatre, The Public Theater, theatrical

In Retrospect

 

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By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Daily Prompt: Retrospective

“The past is prologue….” It’s a saying that suggests we learn from what has transpired before. At the theater, we certainly try hard to look at history and see where it has gotten us, how we approached our problems, what solutions were on offer. Great thinkers–and dramatists are definitely philosophers in action– have made their suggestions clear.

Shakespeare confronted every manner of political upheaval as well as all the dystopias of the soul. We regularly worship at his altar. This year, The Public Theater puts on a summer in the park season with his Othello and Twelfth Night.

George Bernard Shaw looked at askew the world from a totally original perspective. The Gingold Theatrical Group celebrates his musings in their regular Project Shaw series at Symphony Space and with Shaw Club meetings on Mondays. Manhattan Theater Company and the Roundabout folks have tackled Shaw over the years with productions of Major Barbara and, currently on stage at MTC’s Friedman, Saint Joan.

The roiling and effervescent stories told by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake are part of the annual Bloomsday readings, here in New York with one at Bloom’s Tavern and the other at the above mentioned Symphony Space. The Bloom’s Tavern event is coordinated through Origin Theatre Company and includes both celebrities and an Irish breakfast. To be more exacting, it also features a of the Joyce period costume contest.

 

 

Posted in caste, dentist, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, love story, Sean McNall, Shavian, socialism, The Pearl Theatre Company

Flaunting convention: GSB’s specialty

The polemical isn’t always preachy.

Sean McNall as Mr. Valentine is demonstrative with Amelia Pedlow’s Gloria Clandon. Dan Daily as Walter Boon, the waiter aka William in The Pearl’s production of GSB’s “You Never Can Tell.” Photo by Al Foote III.

Sometimes, as in George Bernard Shaw’s  “You Never Can Tell,” in a charming production by The Pearl Theatre Company in cooperation with the Gingold Theatrical Group whose Artisitic Director David Staller directs this presentation at the Pearl’s home on W42nd through October 17, it’s keen and cheeky.

Sean McNall, Ben Charles, Emma Wisniewski, Zachary Spicer, Dominic Cuskern. Photo by Al Foote III.

One expects a George Bernard Shaw play to avow socialism and eschew class, and uphold the view that women rule over men; these POVs show up in so much of what he wrote, even “Pygmalion,” the play on which “My Fair Lady” rests. They are on display also in the seldom-seen and lesser known “You Never Can Tell.” 

Robin Leslie Brown is Mrs. Margaret Clandon in GSB’s “You Never Can Tell.” Photo by Al Foote III.

In “You Never Can Tell,” Mrs. Margaret Clandon (Robin Leslie Brown) returns from an eighteen year exile in Madeira to an English seaside town. With her are her children Dolly (Emma Wisniewski), Philip (Ben Charles) and Gloria (Amelia Pedlow.) The two younger, Dolly and Ben are untamed and wild. It is an unabashed pleasure to watch newcomer Emma Wisniewski scampering about.

Mrs. Clandon earns an esteemable income and some celebrity from a series of books about 20th century manners in which she flaunts convention and espouses liberation for women. She has attained some of that liberation for herself, as she has succeeded in separating from her marriage without actually ending it.

Sean McNall as the dentist Mr. Valentine with Emma Wisniewski as Dolly Clandon in “You Never Can Tell” by George Bernard Shaw. Photo by Al Foote III.

Mrs. Clandon has raised her children to be independent. Her eldest, Gloria was brought up with a belief in her emancipation as a woman. Gloria’s self-reliance does not hold up so well when Dolly introduces her to her  new dentist, Mr. Valentine (Sean McNall.)

Mr. Valentine (Sean McNall) and Miss Gloria Clandon (Amelia Pedlow). Photo by Al Foote III.

Mr. Valentine, reduced to dentistry after several failed attempts at other medical practices, suffers from an excess of levity and a shortage of funds. He is so poor that he is forced to dupe his landlord, Fergus Crampton (Bradford Cover), in order to cover his past rent.

The first act of “You Never Can Tell” tends to mystify. But oh, when it all becomes clear in the second act, what a delight.

Rounding out the superior ensemble are Dan Daily as Walter Boon, called William by Miss Dolly; Zachary Spicer as Walter Bohun, a distinguished attorney brought in to mediate a case for Mrs. Clandon by her solicitor, Finch McComas (Dominic Cuskern). Barbar Bell has designed a plethora of lovely costumes for
the cast to wear in Harry Feiner’s lovely sets.

L-to-R, seated Dolly (Emma Wisniewski), Fergus Crampton (Bradford Cover), Gloria (Amelia Pedlow), Mr. Valentine (Sean McNall), Mrs. Margaret Clandon (Robin Leslie Brown), with Philip Clandon (Ben Charles) directly behind her. Standing L-to-R, Finch mcComas (Dominic Cuskern), Walter Bohun (Zachary Spicer), and Walter Boon (Dan Daily). Photo by Al Foote III. 

“You Never Can Tell” is as sparkling a production as the champagne uncorked for all to sip at the curtain.

For more information about “You Never Can Tell,” please visit The Pearl’s website.