Posts Tagged With: shakespeare

The Great Big Theater Recap

As Rayna has pointed out, I am possibly the only grad student who is busier in the summer than during the school year. That’s because there’s simply so much to catch up on! The last half of May into the first half of June was a busy time for theater. And with that, I gladly present THE GREAT BIG THEATER RECAP.

  1. If/Then: First up is the new Broadway musical If/Then. The most exciting thing about this show was definitely Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp. It was absolutely breathtaking to hear Idina sing live. It actually gave me chills. Then add to that the lovely story. Most musicals are about Big Things with capital letters—True Love, Adventure, Lions. But what I loved about If/Then was its immediacy. It is about the small choices we make and how they shape us. Add to that being in a similar place to the main character (new-ish to NYC, trying to build a life, over analyzing everything), a gorgeous score, and a really cool set design, and I was completely sold. I was also a happy/sad sobbing mess. But no spoilers!
  2. Mayfair: Ok, so this wasn’t really a show, but it was certainly theatrical. The annual Spring event at the McKittrick was over the top this year. I realize none of these places will make sense to anyone who hasn’t been to Sleep No More, but all these places are in the Mckittrick hotel, one magical building in Chelsea.We started in the evening with a performance in the bathtubs in the asylum, then a trek through the woods while ballerinas danced off the path. There was a Maypole dance in the streets of the town. The shops opened over the course of the night, with each one featuring different entertainment. Classic rock turned to karaoke in Agnes’s sitting room, while a blue-lit rave happened in the morgue next door. Violet and Maximillian hosted egg races Malcolm’s detective agency. The Fool from The Drowned Man performed in the window of the tailor shop.Wandering into the speakeasy, I found a full brass band and dancers on the pool table.  There were surprises literally around every corner. It was a fantastic night, one of the most amazing extravaganzas I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait for the next McKittrick party.
  3. Much Ado About Nothing: What’s not to love about Shakespeare in the Park? It’s free, it’s Shakespeare, it’s in the beautiful Delacorte Theater, and they are currently putting on Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favorite comedies. Add to that the gorgeous weather we’re been having (or had, it’s currently back to the usual muggy grossness) and it was enough to get me out of bed at 7 AM on a Saturday to trek up to Central Park. It was perfect weather for sitting in the park with friends, and despite the long line (no seriously, it was the longest line I’ve ever seen) we got tickets with ease. The show was wonderful. The set was gorgeous, and Hamish Linklater made possibly my favorite Benedick I’ve seen—the perfect mix of over-confident, funny, and charming. And we got to see Pedro Pascal (that’s right, that Pedro Pascal) as the plotting Don John, which was an added bonus. I’d definitely recommend catching this production if possibly; it was a fun, funny, and beautiful performance.
  4. Then She Fell: There’s a rabbit hole on a quiet street in Williamsburg. Or, more specifically, there is the Kingsland Ward, where the immersive story of Alice and Wonderland combines with the life of Lewis Carroll in an insane asylum. This production is not at all what I expected. Filled with the familiar thrill of anticipation at a new immersive show, I was prepared for something dark and brooding; what I got was a sweet melancholy nostalgia. Rooms full of boxes I could open and unlock, characters who fed you grapes or told you a bedtime story. It was a much more guided experience than Sleep No More or Queen of the Night, but the loose structure helped add to the feeling of fate; it was dumb luck that led you on your past rather than your choices. As with The Drowned Man, I don’t want to give any specifics because it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible. But it was a beautiful show: very intimate, and the dancing was unique and gorgeous. It uses the space in strange and interesting ways, and I think I might have to go through the looking glass again soon.
  5. Cripple of Innishmaan: Finally, I saw this strange play on Broadway. Not going to lie, I went to mainly to see Daniel Radcliffe. But the play was fun; generally musicals are more my scene (with the exception of Shakespeare), but this was funny and dark and challenging. The set was absolutely gorgeous, somehow they actually created the effect of clouds rolling, and the rotating set made for some really neat scene changes. The play itself is about a small island village off the coast of Ireland. It’s about small towns and small people and the things that cripple us. It was really funny, and I enjoyed the way it plays with audience expectations. It was wickedly clever. It wasn’t my favorite show ever, but I think that might be more my taste rather than any particular fault with the show. It had some really great moments and I enjoyed it overall.

So that’s the GREAT BIG THEATER RECAP for May and June! I’m hoping to try to get to Hedwig and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, but I’m afraid that might be impossible post-Tony’s. Keep your fingers crossed! In the meantime, I’m heading home on Friday. I’m looking forward to taking a break from the city and seeing my family!

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“If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell”: Truly Old School Theater

In college, we had to see a Shakespeare play and compare its take to the text. There was a glam rock production of Richard III in town that featured David Bowie and puppets. It was strange to say the least; after intermission, Richard entered the stage as king dressed in full Iggy Pop gear. It was the only time I’d seen a production of the play until last night. It was an interesting take, comparing Richard’s use of a persona to that of a rock star.

Mark Ryance’s production of Richard III may not have David Bowie, but it has to be one of the coolest theater production I’ve ever seen. In case you don’t know, this production is as authentically Elizabethan as possible- men play women, candles adorn the set, the actors dress on stage before the performance, there are no mics, and an Elizabethan style music troupe performs atop the set. It was a fun experience to watch the actors dress, and it was interesting to see it done as it might have been done back in the day (you know, WAY back in the day). And I won’t even mention the curtain call…the curtain call was perhaps my favorite part of the whole approach, and I don’t want to spoil it!


While I love the detail that went into this production, I think the authenticity was the least interesting of Rylance’s choices in the production–which is saying something! His Richard was not the dastardly mastermind but a mad and perhaps accidental genius. He would cackle mid-soliloquy, prance about like a fool, and molest poor Anne’s fingers in a rather horrific fashion. While I always read the play as a terrible man (but slightly sympathetic, he has, after all had a tough lot in life) who goes insane as the weight of his greedy deeds mounts, Rylance’s portrayal shows a man who is already slightly insane who goes off the deep end entirely once he gains power. Many of the scenes that are often chilling were actually funny in Rylance’s hands. He reminded me of Albert Finney in Scrooge. (I doubt anyone will get that reference, I think my mom and I are the only people in the world who have seen and adore that film, but it’s a fantastic performance.) He was funny, and because of that, you like him, even though he’s a homicidal maniac. I’m not sure it was my favorite interpretation, I’d have to see more actual productions (read: non glam rock themed), but it was really enjoyable, and I’m even more excited to see their production of Twelfe Night next week.

With my discussion of Shakespeare aside, it’s been busy as usual. Finals week is coming up, so things have been quiet as I’m too busy studying and preparing papers and trying not to run screaming through the streets to do anything interesting. It was nice to go home for Thanksgiving and see my family. I enjoyed taking a break from the busy city to eat a lot of food and check out the country craft fairs. I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit; once I finish finals I think I will be in full holiday cheer mode!

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