Monday, October 20, 2008

That's Entertainment!

I was in NYC last week to take in several shows I just HAD to see. Though many of you might not be as obsessed with Broadway performances as I am, I thought I would give you some highlights of what is hot in the cooling City.

ALL MY SONS *** (Three Stars)

I love Arthur Miller and this may be one of my favorite plays of his (tie between "After the Fall")--but the cast and production of this particular production made me shiver a bit with the fallibilities and frailties of humanity painted inside one small family. John Lithgow is a genius, Dianne Wiest was more than imagination could make her, Patrick Wilson is still rising, and Katie Holmes, eh...she was ok. However, I will be writing a post all about running into Oprah and Tom Cruise at this production (I went the day after it opened, and apparently, so did all of Katie's was absolute anarchy in the theater with two of America's biggest stars.) 

EQUUS **** (Four Stars!!)
This play, for me at least, addressed the question of a human's need to worship. Young Alan's parents remove the framed painting of Jesus from the young boy's room when they decide they don't want to be religious. In it's place, they give Alan (played amazingly brilliant by Daniel Radcliff) a picture of a horse instead...not realizing the the boy will take his need to worship deity and place that upon the horse. It asks the question...What are you worshipping that is crazy? Money? Fame? Acceptance? Material things? Yourself?

Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses.

Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a 17-year-old who had blinded six horses in a small town near London. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play's action is something of a detective story, involving the attempts of the child psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, to understand the cause of the boy's actions while wrestling with his own sense of purpose.

SPRING AWAKENING ***** (Five Stars out of Five!!!)

I saw this three hours after I landed on Thursday and it blew me away. The words, the music, the soulful actors, the message, the lights, the creation of the whole masterpiece and the way it made me feel. Definitely the highlight of musicals for me since RENT.

It's a little disconcerting to see 19th-century German schoolboys in the new musical "Spring Awakening" yanking microphones from inside their little woolen jackets, fixing us with baleful gazes and screaming amplified angst into our ears.

It is also exhilarating. When was the last time you felt a frisson of surprise and excitement at something that happened in a new musical? For that matter, when was the last time something new happened in a new musical?

A fresh breeze of true inspiration blows steadily through this ambitious if imperfect show, which features alluringly melancholy music by the pop singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. "Spring Awakening," is an adaptation of the once-scandalous 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, the German playwright who is probably best known as the author of the source material for the Alban Berg opera "Lulu."

RELIGULOUS **** (Four Stars)
When Bill Maher's show was canceled, I had to think "What?!!! The title of the show was Politically Incorrect people, what were you expecting??!!!" But he is back now and better than ever. This documentary on religious zealots throughout the world had my attention from start to finish. And while it is not anti any one religion, or anti at all, I fear that the title alone will keep many people away from seeing an eye opening documentation of religion in our world. You may not agree, but with Bill, I'd say it's worth the watch and you can agree to disagree. And yes, he got kicked out of Temple Square when trying to film there.

From the New York Times

There is no arguing with faith. As the comedian and outspoken nonbeliever Bill Maher travels the world, interviewing Christians, Jews and Muslims in the facetiously funny documentary “Religulous,” you begin to wonder if there might be two subspecies of humans.

The skeptical minority to which Mr. Maher belongs constitutes 16 percent of the American population, he says, citing a survey. For many of them, including Mr. Maher, the tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam (Eastern and African religions are ignored) are dangerous fairy tales and myths that have incited barbarous purges and holy wars that are still being fought. A talking snake? A man who lived inside a fish? These are two of Mr. Maher’s favorite biblical images offered up for ridicule.

The majority of Americans, however, embrace some form of blind faith. But because that faith by its very nature requires a leap into irrationality, it is almost impossible to explain or to defend in rational terms.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED **** (Four Stars--Real realism in its most real form...really)

This film, playing in only a few select states, shows Anne Hathaway as no one has yet to see her. Her portrayal of Kym at the wedding of her sister Rachel was truly a sight to behold. Michelle and I watched it in the small screening theaters at Lincoln Plaza. Oscar buzz should be heard soon.

"I don't think I've ever seen a wedding film that made me feel the way this one does, as if I wasn't just crashing the event but was part of the family. In a rehearsal dinner that sprawls on, the speeches are so revealing, stirring up so many awkward, touching crosscurrents, that it's as if you've known everyone in the room for years. That level of realism, as Robert Altman understood well, turns the most microscopic of interactions into drama, and that's the level Demme is working on here. It helps that the script is a fully woven web of love, jealousy, and enabling demons. After a while, Debra Winger shows up as the sisters' quasi-estranged mother, and she and Hathaway have a fight scene that's as raw as Ingmar Bergman and as operatic as Mildred Pierce."

DAVID SEDARIS ***** (Five out of Five!--delectably entertaining!!!!!)

I saw this here in Utah tonight. One of the most enchanting, amazingly funny writers of our time. I love this man!!

“I love things made out of animals. It's just so funny to think of someone saying, 'I need a letter opener. I guess I'll have to kill a deer.”

On learning French:

"I'd hoped the language might come on its own, the way it comes to babies, but people don't talk to foreigners the way they talk to babies. They don't hypnotize you with bright objects and repeat the same words over and over, handing out little treats when you finally say "potty" or "wawa." It got to the point where I'd see a baby in the bakery or grocery store and instinctively ball up my fists, jealous over how easy he had it. I wanted to lie in a French crib and start from scratch, learning the language from the ground floor up. I wanted to be a baby, but instead, I was an adult who talked like one, a spooky man-child demanding more than his fair share of attention. "


Boquinha said...

Wow. What a review! Fascinating! Thank you for sharing--I didn't know a lot of this. I'm excited to read your Oprah-Tom Cruise post.

Rowena said...

Oh, now I want to go see Spring Awakening. I'll settle for a movie, though. I haven't been to see a movie in forever.

Alisa said...

Wow. I have only seen two Miller plays, but I was deeply moved by Death of a Salesman. I should check this out.

I am so envious of your Sedaris experience! That reminds me, I still have to return your book.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Read "Equus" back in high school - have never seen in live though.
Love David Sedaris - hilarious!

Not a fan of Bill Maher, so I'll pass on his, but "Rachel Getting Married" did look very intriguing as well.

Thanks for the reviews!

smiles4u said...

Wow! How exciting to take all that in while in NYC. I cannot even imagine what it would be like so thank you for sharing.

Cid said...

My daughter is a music major at UH. Se woudl lvoe to go to NYC a couple of times a year and see shows. Heck, I'd love to go with her. Thanks for the reviews. Enjoyed this post a lot.

Stina said...

That is pretty much one of my dreams - to go to NYC and just watch show after show. Thanks for sharing the reviews! We saw Sedaris the last time he was here and it was fabulous.

Lin said...

Oh, there is so much I want to see! Lucky, happy you!

Anonymous said...

Dang it. Lin is not a real person. That is me not paying attention to how I'm posting. Anyway, glad you got to see some great things.

Hey, It's Ansley said...

So jealous of the NYC shows! I'm embarrassed to say I have been there at least 7-8 times and never seen a Broadway show. Can't wait to see Rachel Getting Married. Saw David Sedaris on Halloween, he was so hilarious! Love the quote you shared about learning French. For me, the hardest people to speak with there were the kids because the adults knew I was American and gave me a little leeway with mistakes, the kids just looked at me like I was stupid.