Broadway: Decisions, Decisions
I’m using one week of my precious vacation time in May to take in as much of the Great White Way as possible. That means shows, shows, and more shows. Comedy, drama, musicals, cabaret, readings, and hopefully more.
A cheap Yankee, rather than staying overnight at The Benjamin — my favorite hotel, I’ll be a day-tripper. That will allow me to save a few benjamins for lunch, dinner, and cocktails in the Big Apple. Not such a bad staycation after all, eh?
So here’s the deal. There are so many wonderful shows on stage right now, what should I see?
There are a few no-brainers. At the top of my list is Macbeth starring Alan Cumming. With a strictly limited 73-performance engagement, I got tickets the moment they were available. This is the kind of theater I crave — a fresh spin on a great classic.
I’m tempted to continue the Macbeth theme by catching Sleep No More, an interactive event performed by The Punchdrunk theater company. It’s held in a warehouse set up to look like “The McKittrick Hotel.” Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the audience wears masks and chases the actors around from floor to floor. And there’s no talking or dialogue. How’s that for a fresh spin on a great classic?
Another must-see play on the list is The Nance starring the legendary Nathan Lane. If he had a show where all he did was read the phonebook, I’d be there.
The Assembled Parties,with Judith Light and Jessica Hecht just opened, and it sounds intriguing. It takes place at a family Christmas celebration, 20 years apart. Jessica Hecht is like a chameleon, she melts effortlessly into diverse roles. Loved her as the long-suffering wife in A View From The Bridge, and as a complete ditz in Harvey. The last time I saw Judith Light was in an off-Broadway production of W;t, where she was brilliantly inspirational.
But one can’t live on drama alone, there has to be music. I’m curious about Pippin, the story of a young prince on a quest to find meaning to his existence. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, acrobatics, and choreography in the style of Bob Fosse, it should fit the bill. Pippin is returning to Broadway after 40 years. Welcome home!
And then there’s The Book of Mormon. I’ve put off seeing it. Forever. I figured I could wait until it made its way to Great Performances on PBS or the archives at the New York Public Library. But then the original cast left and there were changes. One of the leads is now played by Matt Doyle. I’ve been following Matt’s career since his Broadway debut in Spring Awakening and have interviewed him several times for my paper. He’s talented, fun, and has a great singing voice. During Matt’s run in War Horse, he graciously invited me backstage at Lincoln Center. The huge cast was abuzz. You could tell they loved the show and were reveling in it. So I’ve gotta see Matt in Mormon.
TRIVIA: Matt Doyle is the only actor I know who has appeared in shows that won a Tony Award for Best Play and Best Musical in the same year (War Horse and Mormon).
If I have any spare time, there are a few other shows under consideration: Lucky Guy with Tom Hanks, Ann (Holland Taylor’s turn as Ann Richards), Kinky Boots, and Cinderella. Off Broadway there’s Avenue Q, another musical that’s been simmering on the back burner for eons.
Sadly, I waited too long for Hands on a Hardbody which closed last week after just 28 performances (plus 28 previews). Starring Keith Carradine and another one of my Broadway faves, Hunter Foster (Bobby Strong in Urinetown), it was a quirky little musical that got pretty darn good reviews, but did pretty poorly at the box office. My loss.