Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Cynthia Nixon delights! Jean Brodie was an outspoken, progressive teacher at a very conservative girls school in Scotland. She's in top form (her self professed "prime") and the girls simply adore and idolize her. She intends to make them the Creme de le Creme. She preaches art, love, beauty, and independence. She is bold and brazen. Did she go too far? Did her jealousy end up destroying her? You be the judge. Come see her mezmorize the girls at the Acorn Theater.

Just on thing... don't expect the best Scotish accent. It comes... and goes....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens is Christine Ebersole's show to shine in. And boy-oh-boy - did she ever! This recent transfer to Broadway is the story of Edith Bouvier Beale, her daughter, Edie, and their extreme relationship. The show is filled with wealthy family drama, the back-story of their connections to the Kennedy Clan, their extreme transformation with age, and of course a good dose of music - something Edith herself used to fill the many voids in her life.

Act I portrays the gay days (taken both literally and figuratively!) of the family in 1941 at the Beale Summer House - Grey Gardens - out in the Hamptons. This is the time period that young Edie meets and almost marries a young Joe Kennedy. Christine plays Mother Edith - the strong willed, powerful, yet extremely vulnerable matriarch of the Beale Family (while her husband is off fooling around on Wall Street and cheating on his wife). Kudos go out to John McMartin who plays a wonderfully entertaining Father to Edith - Major Bouvier.

In Act II Christine transforms herself into her own daughter - and Mary Louise Wilson takes over as her aging Mother in 1974 - - in what can only be described as the extreme decline of Grey Gardens. She is a recluse, the house is falling apart and they are both quite eccentric and have become locally infamous for the squalor they live in - - So much so that Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis actually made several public statements on the situation of her aunt and cousin.

The quick witted and sharp tongued Ebersole tears thru both acts with gusto. Showing us at first her desire as Edith to impress and entertain - and then later her personal struggle as Edie with having her life "ruined" by her mother. In the end - she's not strong (or sane) enough to leave - despite her regrets, anger, and desire to do so.

The feelings of gaiety and lyrical music turn to hopelessness, desperation, and squalor in a mere 3 hours on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater on West 48th.


SubUrbia - Powerful. A dose of social truths. Is this how our kids are really growing up today? I'd say it's pretty darn close. Kids are messed up today. Who and what is the cause? Our parents? Our culture? Did this happen overnight? I think not.
Perhaps some might think it's a bit of everything thrown into the pot and stewed for 2.5 hours... others might say - well.. the same thing and that's just how it is today.

The cast - superb. Peter Scanavino - a shocking and honest standout. Kieran Culken and Michael Esper - Real. Honest. Funny. Fucked up. Like everyone else. All of the above.

We'll see more of these actors. And it was unanimous leaving the theater - the problems portrayed aren't going away any time soon. And lots of kids with these problems are now the adults with more kids... I see a pattern here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Ben Butley -- Meet Virginia Woolf. The mind games, the booze, the deep seated acrimony... sardonic wit, cut-to-the-bone sarcasm, bitter laughter, but most of all the internal hate, or shame, or desire?! Subtext. Keyword. It's all about what is said indirectly, or, "point-in-fact", not said at all. Is he gay? Or was it all just speaking figuratively. One thing for sure, he's happiest when others are broken down - or is he?

After the Odd Couple, I had mixed expectations about seeing Nathan Lane again... Worried it would be Bialistock and Bloom all over again (and again). Well, sir - not tonight. Nathan gave a top notch performance. Deep. Emotional. You left feeling sorry for Ben Butley. But oh, what a ride along the way. He just may have met his match with his latest conquest. Then again, can you really call it a conquest any longer.... Virginia - you just might have met your match!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Losing Louie

Truly an entertaining evening at Manhattan Theater Club's first production of the 2007 season. Louie, the namesake about which the play transpires, is dead. The story seamlessly eases between the current and the past. Two stories - one the story of his life, the other the story of his funeral and all the dirt that finally comes out. Aren't all families twisted in some familiar way?

This is the story of family, conflict, and infidelity in the 1960's. It's the story of secrets, lies, and the extent to which people go to cover them up and smooth things over. It's about the truths you are afraid to tell yourself. Perception is reality? Possibly.

Matthew Arkin leads the talented lineup on the stage at the Biltmore. The staging and direction by Jerry Zachs is brilliant. The use of lighting to change the mood and time periods was brilliant. It all comes together in the end and the truth always comes out... or does it?

It really struck me that while this story, chock full of twists, turns and laughs just might contain some element of truth or relevancy to just about everyone in the audience.