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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!