Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring roundup, Part I: Sweeney Todd and Come from Away

Spring in these parts means fluctuating temperatures, the hectic and drawn-out end of the semester, more theater than I know what to do with, and very little time. What is a theater-loving, overworked, end-of-semester-slaphappy blogger like me to do at a time like this? Why, report on the shows I've seen over the past month more briefly than I usually do, for fear of never writing about them at all! To follow are two writeups; stay tuned for a few more, as soon as I can find some down-time.

Sweeney Todd (Barrow Street)
Joan Marcus
Ah, Sweeney, you brilliant little vacation in hell, you manifestation of the notion that to be human is to suffer miserably or be bugshit crazy or both, you homage to all that is corrupt and morbid and vile. You're so relentlessly nihilistic, and yet your themes are so relevant, your characters so complex and amusing, your score so brilliantly deep and warm. You never cease to thrill, amaze, challenge, and scare the bejesus out of me, and for that, I salute you with all the sneering, pitch-black cynicism I can muster.

The production at the teeny, tiny Barrow Street Theater, which has been repurposed as a rundown pie shop, is great fun, which is not at all a weird thing to say about this musical. Audience members sit at long restaurant-style benches, along tables atop which you can, if you have the stomach, enjoy meat (or chicken or vegetarian) pies and mash before curtain. I didn't partake, but I hear the pies are good. And even if they aren't made of human flesh, the face of Sondheim comes stamped on them--so you can pretend, I guess?

Like all fads, immersive theater can get old pretty fast, and in truth, it irritates me in many cases. But this production fits well into the small, shadowy, cramped quarters it occupies. Performers often plop down at tables next to spectators, weave their way through the narrow aisles, or confront unsuspecting audience members directly and abruptly, which I genuinely hope has not caused any heart attacks (or complaints by sourpusses), because it's done to hilariously terrifying effect. The cast is dedicated, the three musicians adept, the production beloved by my husband and teenage daughter. I loved it too, though I admit I missed the traditional three-tiered set, with the barber chair and slide stacked atop the shop and then the basement, which the space was just too small to accommodate. Still, the use of harsh red light. and sometimes near-total darkness, make it clear that this is a musical in which people die violently and man literally makes mincemeat of man.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Glass Menagerie

Hi, Show Showdown visitors!

My take on the highly unconventional and mildly controversial Sam Gold production of The Glass Menagerie is currently featured on Broken and Woken, the blog affiliated with Extreme Kids & Crew. Extreme Kids is a nonprofit organization that provides play spaces and support for special-needs children and their people.

You can see the review here:

If you like what you see, please consider poking around the Extreme Kids & Crew website, which you can link to here:

Thank you,