ATTENTION MUST BE PAID Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mike Nichols's revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman."
THEATRICALLY, March came in like a sad play about doomed alcoholics in love and went out like "Jesus Christ Superstar." (Which does not mean, as this might suggest, that it's coming back.) Not sure what to do about the lion-lamb metaphor in this case either. Herewith, most of a month of theater in and around New York.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street, NYC
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Not every New York critic was in love with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Arthur Miller's aging, not-so-well-liked Willy Loman, but a lot of them were. (See Thom Geier's brief review from EW.) And that sort of thing brings the big names into the audience. Liza Minnelli was there the night my friend A and I saw it. (Liza did not join us in the ladies' room line at intermission.) Alan Alda was sitting across the aisle from us. And this was one night when sitting in Row C was a privilege, so close to such an amazing performance and performer. Andrew Garfield as Biff wasn't bad either. Must pay more attention to him in the future.
Jacobs, 242 West 45th Street, NYC
Thursday, March 22, 2012
So apparently there was this movie, "Once," that everyone who saw either adored or despired. About a discouraged young musician and a young Eastern European woman who turns his life around. Now it's a Broadway musical, and I might have enjoyed it, but I was in a sullen mood because my friend B had canceled at the last minute. And only because his boyfriend had had open-heart surgery. Where are some people's priorities, really? Anyway, some of the music seemed nice.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
Neil Simon, 250 West 52nd Street, NYC
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
They loved this production at Stratford (the one in Canada, not Britain or Connecticut), but it hasn't gotten the unanimous raves we all expected. But my friend D and I thought it was fabulous. He was working with a youthful love for the original British album in the early 1970s. I was working with memories of having seen the first Broadway production around the same time. Twice. I was very taken with Tom Hewitt as Pilate, although D, raised in some Christian denomination or other, claimed not to know exactly who Pilate was. (Answer: Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who was pretty sure Jesus was getting a raw deal but succumbed to pressure and ordered his crucifixion anyway.) And I'd forgotten how much I loved the lyrics of "The Last Supper." "Always hoped that I'd be an apostle/Knew that I would make it if I tried/And when we retire, we can write the gospels/So they'll still talk about us when we've died."
Acorn Theater, 410 West 42nd Street, NYC
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Janeane Garofalo is playing the mom. Of teenagers. Wasn't it just yesterday she was playing Jerry Seinfeld's young, marriageable soul mate on "Seinfeld"? Both my friend L and I agreed that she did an outstanding Russian accent. We also found the villain (Morgan Spector) -- I'm pretty sure he was importing young girls as sex slaves -- frighteningly convincing. It's always a relative, isn't it? Charles Isherwood of The New York Times ("A Family Reunion, With a Chaser") wasn't madly in love with it but liked the performances.
Lion, 410 West 42nd Street. NYC
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Went to this because a friend of a friend was in it. Cute story about three sisters who inherit their childhood home and differ in what to do with/to it.
A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN
City Center, 131 West 55th Street, NYC
Thursday, March 15, 2012
My guest, N, left after Act I. (And this production is in three acts, so that was quite a vote of no confidence.) I don't think she likes Eugene O'Neill. Or at least not Eugene O'Neill with country accents. Eric Grode, writing in The Times ("Boozy Nights of a Ravaged Dreamer"), was much kinder, concluding that the production "illuminates O'Neill's unlikely lovers with a bruising and yet benevolent glow." I saw Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in these roles a hundred or so years ago, so I'm spoiled but was still fine with the performances and direction. Far more important, of course, I ran into someone I knew, so I wasn't lonely at intermission(s).
THE LADY FROM DUBUQUE
Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, NYC
Friday, March 16, 2012
A revival of one of Edward Albee's flops that this time around got a very favorable Times review ("Who Am I? Why Are We Here? Oh, Hello, Death."). Ben Brantley called it a "scintillating revival." It starts with two couples at a dinner party, at which the hostess is battling cancer. Then Death shows up. Jane Alexander plays Death and is quite elegant in the role.
DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES
Schoolhouse Theater, Croton Falls, NY
Sunday, March 4, 2012
I loved the 1962 movie, so I was thrilled to have a chance to review this for the Westchester pages of The Times ("Losing It All for Another Drink"). The most important thing I learned was that in the original television play (the basis for the movie), the Lee Remick character, a beautiful young secretary, was already an experienced social drinker when she met the Jack Lemmon character, a PR man with limited scruples. I liked the story so much more when she went from a chocolate addiction to brandy Alexanders. Also, who knew that Cliff Robertson had originated the Jack Lemmon role?
Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Reviewed this one for The Times too ("The High Price of a Baseball Winning Streak"). I loved everything about the production but the actress who played Lola. And I liked her a lot in another show (the concert version of "Company," with Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby, which was filmed). She just seemed miscast here.
McCarter Theater Center, Princeton, NJ
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Also an assignment for The Times. Here's my review ("Nimble Wordplay and Wink at History"). In the actual paper, I repeated a line of dialogue as "My heart belongs to Dada." Turns out the script actually says "My art belongs to Dada." (Luckily, on the Internet, no one can see your original error.) The really pathetic part is that this is the third time I've seen "Travesties," starting with the original Broadway production. So I'd been misunderstanding this line for more than 35 years. Dear Tom Stoppard: I am so sorry. Of course your correct version is twice as funny.
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