Here’s another gaggle of shows that should be seen or avoided.
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Mrs. Wife had to attend a wedding shower (which sounds like torture to me) so I had The Daughters for the day. I took them into the city to see Rain
, the fake Beatles show on Broadway.I saw it last February and was pleasantly surprised to see that even though it was a lightly attended 2:00 Saturday matinee, the four actors/musicians put on a pretty decent show. They only look a little bit like The Beatles, but the music is right on the money. I brought pediatric ear plugs for the girls and it’s a damn good thing I did. It was loud, particularly the ear-splitting orchestral crescendo at the end of A Day in the Life
. I question some of their song choices, though. Why play a throw-away ditty like Hello Goodbye, but not a masterpiece like Help? They should’ve asked me first.
Prior to the show I took them for a row out on Central Park Lake. It’s only $12 bucks for an hour! An incredible bargain, especially in an overpriced town like this. The views from the center of the lake of the skyline, Bethesda Fountain and The Dakota knock the wind out of me every time. The next day we all spent the afternoon sitting on the beach. I had my Sunday New York Times and The Daughters and Mrs. Wife bumped into some friends. There was plenty of sun, a cool northwest breeze and no humidity. Toes in the soft sand. Manhattan + Broadway with The Daughters on Saturday and the beach on Sunday. I’m pretty sure this is as good as it gets. I hope I don’t fuck it up.
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Do you guys know who John Leguizamo is? He’s a B-list actor who has been in more movies than you probably realize. What you might not know is that he is also a master of one-man shows. I remember seeing his first show, Mambo Mouth, many years ago down in a dingy theater in the East Village when I was still young and pretty. All these years later and now his shows open on Broadway and cost 10x as much to see. I was lucky enough to catch Ghetto Klown before it closed. (I think this might be the last week.)
In the spectrum of entertainers, I think I have the most respect for, believe it or not, stand-up comedians and actors who do one-man shows. Imagine walking out on a stage all by yourself and all you have is your words and talent! No other actors around to support you or prop your ass up if you get into a jam. It’s a crazy notion but when it works it’s magic. Señor Leguizamo was a tad overindulgent and could have trimmed :15 minutes from Ghetto Klown but it was still a great evening.
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Some of Our Parts is, as advertised, seven 10-minute plays about disability. The sincere, if somewhat clunkily named TBTB (Theater Breaking Through Barriers), is an earnest troop of actors, some of whom are disabled. I love an evening of one-acts. If the play stinks, just hang in there for a few minutes longer and an entirely new story will replace it. You can’t go wrong! It’s not like Spider-man whereby I was trapped in my seat with the same abysmal material for almost three hours.
In case it’s too small to read, the cartoon headline is “Autumn in the Leper Colony.” The caption is “Now get out there and rake up those fallen limbs!” Oooh.
I’m going to admit right up front that I’m not very comfortable around disabled people. Yeah, I know it’s my hang-up and I’m working on it, so spare me the sermons. The theme that seemed to string these stories together is that the disabled want to be treated like everyone else so here goes. Overall it was an enjoyable evening but some of the acting and writing was sub-par. Of the seven play (playlets?) five were serviceable but the last two achieved greatness. Neil LaBute’s Cripples, about three guys sitting on a park bench discussing sex with a legless woman, was black and funny. The last piece, Samuel D. Hunter’s Welcome to Wal-Mart, where two disabled Wal-Mart greeters dish on customers and each other, was pure genius.
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I admire the Roundabout Theater for it’s healthy mixture of producing time-tested classics and new material, some of it by young, unknown playwrights, so I am reluctant to criticize anything they do. But I’m sorry, Death Takes a Holiday didn’t work for me on any level. I went with DG, who is seasoned and he enjoyed it a lot so what the hell do I know?
I’m just not good with traditional Broadway musical stylings (The Book of Mormon being the exception). I’ve never seen Oklahoma or Annie Get Your Gun or Carousel or South Pacific or The Music Man or any of that crap-ola. If it’s a staple for high school thespians, I’m not interested. A valiant effort, but Death Takes a Holiday never rose above it’s bland songs, clumsy stage direction or obvious (even to an idiot like me) plot devices.
But that’s an awesome poster, don’t you think?
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I loved, LOVED All New People, the new show at the 2econd Stage Theater. It’s written by Zach Braff, who was on TV for years in Scrubs and also wrote a very good movie called Garden State. Is it fair that one guy gets to be in a successful TV show AND is a talented writer to boot? I’d like to know that he suffers just a bit to balance it all out.
CB is correct that it’s derivative of a lot of other things, specifically, The Breakfast Club, but I don’t care and I don’t think he did, either. It’s well acted and funny. I’ve decided that Anna Camp, who was brilliant as the hot blond minister’s wife in True Blood and here plays the stereotypical hooker with a heart of gold, is my new pretend girlfriend. Sorry Mary-Louise Parker. You had your chance.