Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fall 2016: NYC

The Front Page on Broadway

I wasn't sure what to expect of this play, which I assumed would be too old-fashioned to be a draw on its own, but it's hard to pass up seeing a cast that includes Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Holland Taylor, Jefferson Mays, and Robert Morse. Thankfully, everyone was in and firing on all cylinders. The first act, with its rapid, much-overlapping dialogue, was for the most part atmospheric. The play really takes off in the second act, especially with the late arrival of Nathan Lane, who has become a must-see in anything he does since his brilliant turn in The Iceman Cometh. There's no one who could glean as much hilarity from this material as Lane does. And it's rare to see such a large cast (of 21) and such a huge, intricate set these days, even on Broadway. This one was a delight from start to finish!


Falsettos on Broadway

Rarely mounted, I hadn't seen "Falsettos" since a pre-"Falsettos," Spring of 1992 production at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (in their smaller Studio Theater) that combined March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland a month prior to that combination premiering on Broadway for the first time as Falsettos. That production starred Mr. Jodi Benson as Whizzer and the Little Mermaid herself (on leave from the just-opened Crazy For You) sat right in front of me!

My love for the show has been unending ever since then (see pic of framed William Finn lyric on my "theatre wall") and this revival on Broadway continued that love, led by an outstanding cast, including a never-better Stephanie J. Block, who stops the show with her incredible version of "I'm Breaking Down." The cast has to contend with a lot of busywork in constantly rearranging the puzzle pieces of furniture (that all come together as a single large cube), but they don't let that get in the way of delivering the heart and humor at the core of this show. Bravo!


Sweet Charity, The New Group off-Broadway

This is another classic show that I had been waiting for the right production before seeing it for the first time. Part of the appeal of this production though is to see such a big show in such a small venue (there were only 3 rows in the center section of the main floor!). I find Sutton Foster alternately bland and brilliant, but she is divine here as is the rest of the cast, especially Joel Perez (of Fun Home) in his multiple roles. If the choreography is not on the level of Bob Fosse, it is still a delight with the highlight being Foster's amazing tap routine for "If My Friends Could See Me Now." That whole sequence, including the book scene leading up to the dance, is musical comedy perfection! While many complain that this show and its myriad different endings have never "worked" without Fosse and Gwen Verdon, they both worked great for me! This production will surely have another life on a larger stage, but I will always remember seeing it (and the amazing Sutton Foster) in one of the smaller spaces at the newish Pershing Square Signature Center.

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