Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Short Takes

Estrogenius: The Manhattan Theatre Source’s yearly festival of plays by women, Estrogenius suffers from the weaknesses and benefits from the strengths familiar to anyone who watches evenings of short plays. Some of the shows turn out to really be skits, as in Not Me (written by Marguerite Louise Scott, directed by Sarah Jenkins), in which a young woman goes to Dr. Fraued (sic) because her best friend has lost her head. Some are well-written but need work, as in Spring Break (written by Annalisa Loeffler, directed by DeLisa White), in which a mother (the excellent Paula Hoza) and daughter share confidences that change their views of themselves and their family. Some are almost there, as in The God Particle (written by Christina Gorman, directed by Kathryn McConnell), which has excellent dialogue and an unusual and fascinating concept but awkward character development. And some are flat-out excellent, as in Who You Got to Believe, the story of two people who bond over their losses in post-Katrina New Orleans. Economically written by Charlene A. Donaghty, beautifully directed by Zoya Kachadurian, and movingly acted by Sheilagh Weymouth and L.B. Williams, Who You Got to Believe is the sort of play that reminds me why I go to evenings of one acts! (Full disclosure: I have had two plays done at Estrogenius festivals.)

Sing-along Sound of Music: There were about 20 of us in the movie theatre. Richard Rodgers’ music is a pleasure to sing. Oscar Hammerstein II lyrics are uneven and repetitive (didn’t Maria have any other favorite things?). Julie Andrews is lovely and can almost act. Christopher Plummer can definitely act, but doesn’t always bother to. The Baroness is given a bum deal, with even her own hairdo against her. I love this movie. A good time was had by all.

Off-Broadway Close Up: If you’re not aware of the wonderful theatre-oriented evenings at Merkin Hall, it’s time to check them out. (Coming up next is All The Things You Are, a tribute to Jerome Kern with Rebecca Luker and Kate Baldwin.) The most recent evening, Off-Broadway Close Up, included songs from Forbidden Broadway, performed by their originators; “Die, Vampire, Die,” from [tos], with the original cast; Carol Demas doing a sad and lovely version of “Best Friend” from Getting My Act Together; and the insanely energetic, generously talented Jason Robinson doing a medley of Off-Broadway songs.

Nothing Like a Dame: The yearly benefits for the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative always have much to offer, and this year—a tribute to Comden and Green—was no exception. For me the highlights were Polly Bergen singing “The Party’s Over,” Victoria Clark singing a song from A Doll’s Life, Nancy Opel’s manic “If You Haven't But You Did,” everything Marc Kudish did, Mario Cantone, and Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli. A major problem: the show was grossly overmiked in a small theatre in which the bulk of the performers didn’t need mikes at all.


Anonymous said...

"Julie Andrews", "Christopher Plummer", but "The Baroness"?

Doesn't Eleanor Parker deserve to be mentioned?

Wendy Caster said...

With the first two, I was discussing the actors. With the Baroness, I was discussing the character. But, yes, Eleanor Parker deserves to be mentioned! Sorry about that.