Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Bethany Anne Lind, Tess Malis Kincaid, and Tom Key in Arena’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” (Teresa Wood)
If you don’t know what to get your playgoing (or at least not-theatre-averse) parents for Christmas, and you can afford the freight, Arena Stage’s Malcolm-Jamal Warner-starring Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum are both good revivals of 1960s items that they’re likely to enjoy.
I liked them, too. But then, I’m big on the music, movies, and TV of the 60s. I review both in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.
In 2009 I attended a lecture by Jack Viertel, a theatre-critic-turned-producer, elucidating the structure of Broadway musicals. Actually, “lecture” doesn’t really reflect what an intimate affair this was. It was more like a musical-appreciation lesson, held in the home of Sasha Anawalt as part of the NEA Institute fellowship for arts journalists writing about theatre that she oversaw. Anyway, Viertel broke down the way these shows work the way screenwriting guru Robert McKee deconstructs commercial movies. He even had musical theatre performers on hand to sing samples of each type of song he described as he detailed its emotional and/or narrative function within the show.
I’d seen only a handful of musicals at that time. I was fascinated to learn what a complicated and tradition-encumbered form it is, and how many different moving parts must to cohere just so to make something that, done right, looks and sounds effortless.
Ted van Griethuysen, Elizabeth Pierotti, Sarah Marshall, Kimberly Schraf, and Rick Foucheux in “That Hopey Changey Thing.” (Photo: Teddy Wolff)
The Studio Theatre is staging two of Richard Nelson‘s four Apple Family Plays, the last of which had its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York only last Friday, in repertory. The pair at Studio are That Hopey Change Thing and Sweet and Sad. My review of both is on Arts Desk now, and will show up in print in next week’s City Paper. Happy Thanksgiving.
Posted in theatre
Tagged Elizabeth Pierotti, Kimberly Schraf, play reviews, Richard Nelson, Rick Foucheux, Sarah Marshall, Serge Seiden, Studio Theatre, Ted van Griethuysen, The Apple Family Plays, The Studio Theatre, The Washington CIty Paper, Washington City Paper
I quite liked Keegan Theatre‘s production of Susan Hill and Stephen Mallatratt‘s ghost story The Woman in Black. No arts section in this week’s City Paper, so my review is web-only.
Posted in theatre
Tagged Colin Smith, Keegan Theatre, Mark A. Rhea, Matthew Keenan, play reviews, Robert Leembruggen, Stephen Mallatrat, Susan Hill, The Woman in Black, Tony Angelini, Washington City Paper
Hilda Cronje and Bongile Mantsai in “Mies Julie.”(Rodger Bosch)
My reviews of Mies Julie, a South African August Strindberg update, and David Henry Hwang’s Bondage, from locals Pinky Swear Productions, are in today’s Washington City Paper.
Posted in theatre
Tagged Anacostia Playhouse, August Strindberg, Bondage, Bongile Mantsai, David Henry Hwang, Hilda Cronje, Ken Norton, Mies Julie, Miss Julie, Pinky Swear Productions, play reviews, Shakespeare Theatre Company, South Africa, Toni Rae Salmi, Washington City Paper, Yael Farber
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Darrow Montgomery/Washington City Paper)
My profile of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose play Appropriate opens at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company tomorrow night, is in today’s Washington City Paper. He says he’s rewritten it since I saw its premiere at the Humana Festival of New American Plays last April, so I’m curious to see what’s changed.
Read all about it.
Lawrence Redmond & Ryan Tumulty in “Inventing Van Gogh.” (C. Stanley Photography/Washington Stage Guild)
In today’s Washington City Paper, I review two shows I mostly liked: Washington Stage Guild‘s Inventing Van Gogh and Theater J‘s The Argument.
You are alerted.
Posted in theatre
Tagged Alexandra Gertsen-Vassilaros, James Whalen, Lawrence Redmond, play reviews, Ryan Tumulty, Shirley Serotsky, Steven Carpenter, Steven Dietz, Susan Rome, Theater J, Washington City Paper, Washington Stage Guild
Charlayne Woodard is an actress and storyteller of no mean talent. I did not care for her show The Night Watcher.
Reviewed in today’s Washington City Paper.
Photo: Igor Dmitry/Studio Theatre.
1968: Humanity learns the location of the “Planet of the Apes.”
Last year, a brilliant new play premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company called Mr. Burns, a Post-Apocalyptic Play. Everyone who reviewed it told their readers far too much about it. Everyone but me… he said modestly.
The cycle repeated itself when Mr. Burns opened last month at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. So I wrote this for the Village Voice.
Posted in cinema, movies, theatre
Tagged Anne Washburn, Mr. Burns, podcasting, podcasts, spoilers, Village Voice, Voice Film Club, Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Megan Graves and Jenny Donovan bare their “Fangs.” Photo by Chris Maddaloni/The Washington Rogues.
I review Stephen Spotswood‘s new play In the Forest, She Grew Fangs, along well as Aaron Posner‘s oddly inert new Romeo & Juliet for the Folger Theater, in this week’s Washington City Paper. Available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away gratis. Continue reading
Nancy Robinette & Megan Anderson in “After the Revolution.” Photo: Stan Barouh/Theater J.
I was a bigger fan of Studio Theatre‘s production of Amy Herzog‘s 4,000 Miles earlier this year than I am of Theater J’s new staging of its companion play, After the Revolution.
I can’t fault director Eleanor Holdridge‘s staging of the latter for that; I just connected more strongly to the material in 4,000 Miles. Getting to see two marvelous actors, Tanya Hicken and Nancy Robinette, offer their takes on the same character — a close approximation of Herzog’s grandmother — in 4,000 Miles and Revolution, respectively, within a half-year of each other was fun. Continue reading
Sarah Marshall and Kimberly Gilbert
of Round House Theatre
‘s new production of Martin McDonagh
‘s first play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane,
is in today’s Washington City Paper.
G. Alverez Reid and Jacobi Howard
My review of Nathan Louis Jackson‘s somber family story Broke-ology — the play Theater Alliance has chosen to christen the new Anacostia Playhouse — is in today’s Washington City Paper.
Ubiquitous director Jeremy Skidmore‘s tenacious production of A Few Good Men, the play that gave us Aaaron Sorkin, cuts a dashing figure in its dress whites. Reviewed in this week’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.
Posted in theatre
Tagged Aaaron Sorkin, Brianna Letourneau, Jack Nicholson, Jeremy Skidmore, Jonathan Feuer, Keegan Theatre, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Mark A. Rhea, movies, Rob Reiner, Steven Royal, Tom Cruise
Baby Universe No. 7,001 isn’t like the others.
If this summer’s crop of megabudget blockbusters aren’t floating your barge, perhaps you’ll take to heart my unequivocal endorsement
of Baby Universe,
the whimsical and yet nourishing sci-fi puppet show now at Studio Theatre that achieves grand scale via modest means.
The piece is a co-production of Nordland Visual Theatre and Wakka Wakka, the same consortium that did Fabrik, a similarly dark and ambitious, not-necessarily-for-kids puppet play I saw in New York five years ago. These groups are really good at coming up with unlikely material that suits their chosen medium perfectly; it’s hard to imagine what the live-action version of these shows would look like. Anyway, Baby Universe is in town through July 14.
Crashonda Edwards and Julian Elijah Martinez
This week’s City Paper theater column was supposed to include reviews of Theater J’s new The Hampton Years and American Century Theater’s revived Biography. The Sunday matinee of Biography I attended was cancelled due to a power failure 30 minutes into the show, and there wasn’t another performance scheduled before my Monday-evening deadline, regrettably.
So I ended up with a few more hundred words of real estate in which to unpack what I consider be the very earnest and honorable Hampton Years’ very earnest and honorable shortcomings. And also the rather less honorable shortcoming of my published review, wherein I reported that the artist Elizabeth Catlett, a character in The Hampton Years, is still alive. In fact, Ms. Catlett died last year. I apologize for my stupid, sloppy error.
Doyle and Emma and Mash and Sorn
Of the stage productions that’ve moved me most in the five years or so that I’ve been semi-professionally paying attention to theatre in DC, a suspiciously high percentage of those have been directed by Aaron Posner. (His 2009 version of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at the Folger Theatre remains my favorite thing that I’ve ever seen in a playhouse.)
Posner is the playwright, not the director, of Stupid Fucking Bird, his-flippant-but-faithful rejiggering of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, which opened at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company this weekend. (Woolly Mammoth founder Howard Shalwitz is its director.) The result is pretty goddamn delightful, as I aver in today’s Washington City Paper, available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.
Christopher Henley and Brian Hemmingsen.
Allow myself to quote myself: Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land is a 38-year-old Rubik’s Cube covered in Rorschach blots, a confounding examination of memory and masculinity that resists easy interpretation like an Aikido master shrugging off an unwanted bear hug. I wrestle with that bear — er, WSC Avant Bard’s production of that bear-hug-avoiding Aikido master of a play, that is — in this week’s Washington City Paper.
Louis Butelli as Feste in Folger’s TWELFTH NIGHT. Photo by Scott Suchman.
No, Elvis Costello has not embarked upon a mandolin tour with Steve Nieve. That’s Louis Butelli, whose performance as Feste is one of the highlights of the Folger Theatre’s new production of Twelfth Night, which I review in today’s Washington City Paper along with Taffety Punk’s spooky The Golem. Grab yourself a copy wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away for free.
To paraphrase the leader of the free world, let me be clear: I liked Theater J’s premiere of Artistic Director Ari Roth’s long-gestating, heavily autobiographical play, Andy and the Shadows. I liked it a lot. It’s too long, its references too scattered and too many, and at the end you feel like you’ve spent your time in the company of a hyperactive (if uncommonly sensitive and articulate) 19-year-old who just will not stop talking, ever. But these are good problems to have. Overreach is better than undereach. And the cast is just tremendous.
The play, as I note, has been around in some form since nearly a decade prior to the publication of Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity in 1995, which means it almost certainly also predates Stephen Frears’ Y2K film version of the book.
Nevertheless, the play’s likeness to the movie is sort of uncanny.
My review of the play in today’s Washington City Paper lays out the evidence. Any resemblance to fictional persons, living or dead, is accidental. Continue reading