Tuesday, February 16, 2016

January 2016: NYC

The Gin Game, Broadway revival

Having never seen this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, it was a no-brainer to buy tickets when James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson were announced to star in this limited run revival. Both have incredible stage presence and play off each other nicely, but there's not much to this virtually plotless play. Still, it's fun to spend time with these actors (not necessarily the characters) as they play gin game after gin game on the back porch of a rundown nursing home that they will probably never leave alive.


Larazus, New York Theatre Workshop, Off-Broadway

The David Bowie fan in me made this a not-to-be-missed event, even requiring a special trip to NYC. I wish I could say this was a great musical, but I found it lacking in many areas. The show, with recycled David Bowie songs plus a few new ones, is ambitious for sure. As a sequel to The Man Who Fell To Earth (Bowie starred in the movie version in the 1970s), it doesn't succeed as a stand alone piece. Bowie's songs too don't necessarily move along the scant plot (the still stranded alien attempts to finally escape Earth mainly by drinking himself to death). And director Ivo van Hove, who so brilliantly staged Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge, doesn't make any of the proceedings the least bit theatrical. Despite the hard working cast, including Michael G. Hall, Cristin Milioti (of Once fame, also at NYTW), and Michael Esper, this spaceship never takes off.


School of Rock, Broadway

Even Andrew Lloyd Webber is turning to recent movies to adapt into musicals! This one, like most, is by-the-books, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since the show is entertaining from start to finish. Acclaimed leading man Alex Brightman as the charismatic loser Dewey was out (which seems to be happening a lot lately) and probably could have elevated the proceedings. It's a huge role, but the show also features an amazing group of kids, who all play their own instruments. Sierra Boggess (Ariel in Broadway's The Little Mermaid and Christine in Las Vegas's The Phantom of the Opera) has the thankless role of the principal. And while the plot has more than a few wholes, this one is all about heart and that shines through clearly.


The Color Purple, Broadway revival

I wasn't the biggest fan of this musical when I saw it on Broadway in its original incarnation once Fantasia took over the role of Celie. But it has now been thrillingly reinvented in this outstanding production by director John Doyle by way of London's Menier Chocolate Factory. Thankfully Cynthia Erivo gets to repeat her performance as Celie because she knocks it out of the park. Her delivery of "I'm Here" earns its instant mid-show standing ovation! The same cannot be said for Jennifer Hudson, the "name" attached to the show. She's just not right for sexy firecracker Shug Avery. Still, she sings beautifully, which forgives a lot. Danielle Brooks of Orange Is The New Black though is perfect in her role of Sofia. This show will probably never be better than it is right now!


Picasso Sculpture at MoMA

A quick walk through this exhibit was enough for me. Picasso was the father of modern painting and for good reason. His work in sculpture varies greatly in terms of success for me. Best were the voluptuous plaster sculptures labeled as being from his Boisgeloup studio in the early 1930s. Those benefit from being three-dimensional, the rest not so much.

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