Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New York Off-Broadway Buzz: Not-To-Be-Missed Shows, Fall 2012

Brian d’Arcy James, Giant (photo: Joan Marcus)
By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
Off-Broadway shows tend to have limited runs, so don’t delay. Get tickets now! For the financially-challenged, The Public Theater offers $20 tks (when available) at 6pm at the box office. New York Theatre Workshop has $20 tks (on availability) for Sunday night shows, purchase at the box office in advance.

The Twenty-Seventh Man (photo: Joan Marcus)
The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St.); Limited run: until Dec 16, 2012
Directed by Barry Edelstein; Written by Nathan Englander; Starring: Daniel Oreskes, Ron Rifkin, Noah Robbins, Chip Zien
Amazing how a show so gripping it will leave you in tears can also be so amusing and uplifting. The grim scene, which unfolds in a Soviet prison cell, is based on actual events. In 1952, Stalin arrested and executed the top writers of Yiddish literature in Russia. Writer Nathan Englander spins this tale of man’s-inhumanity-to-man into theater gold. Having brilliant actors on stage always helps. Here, they portray three accomplished writers joined by a naïf who reminds his betters—and us—of the power and glory of the written word.

The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St.); Limited run: until Dec 16, 2012
Giant (photo: Joan Marcus)
Directed by Michael Greif; Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa; Book by Sybille Pearson; Starring: Brian d’Arcy James, Kate Baldwin, PJ Griffith, Bobby Steggert, Mackenzie Mauzy
The images from the iconic film of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean are indelibly etched in our “collective unconscious.” Yet, this theatrical adaptation manages to transcend the past and delivers a completely fresh take. The staging is breathtakingly beautiful; Kate Baldwin and PJ Griffith (in the Taylor & Dean roles) are brilliant along with Bobby Steggert and Mackenzie Mauzy, representing the next generation. In old-fashioned musicals, characters just burst into song. Here, the music is more intrinsic, seamlessly fitting into the storyline, based on Edna Ferber's 1952 novel about the Benedict clan in Texas. At three hours, the show clocks in a bit long, but it’s worth the ride.

A Civil War Christmas (photo: Carol Rosegg)

New York Theatre Workshop (79 East 4th St.); Limited run: until Dec 30, 2012
Directed by Tina Landau; Written by Paula Vogel; Musical arrangements by Daryl Waters; Musical director Andrew Resnick; Starring among others: Karen Kandel, K. Todd Freeman, Sean Allan Krill, Bob Stillman, Alice Ripley, Jonathan-David
A Civil War Christmas, NYTW (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Theater, at its best, transports us to another time and place. Through imaginative staging and a terrific ensemble cast, the handiwork of director Tina Landau, it’s Christmas Eve 1864 in Washington, D.C. and we are there. Like a hawk looking down on the earth, we see scenes from all walks of life in D.C. and environs—Mary Todd Lincoln holiday shopping and visiting the war wounded; Rebs and Yanks fretting in their camps; Lincoln ignoring death threats; runaway slaves seeking sanctuary. What makes this play, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel, so powerful is its ability to engage us in this critical moment in time; we too long for an end to war. See the film “Lincoln” (for Daniel Day-Lewis), but if you really want to be moved, come to this show.
Emotional Creature (photo: Carol Rosegg)

Signature Center (480 West 42nd St.) 
Written by Eve Ensler; Directed by Jo Bonney; Starring: Ashley Bryant, Molly Carden, Emily S. Grosland, Joaquina Kalukango, Sade Namei, Olivia Oguma
Eve Ensler, of “The Vagina Monologues” fame, has turned her phenomenal ability to hone in on the essential truth to all the prickly aspects of teenage angst. A wonderfully-energetic young cast sings their way through anxiety, pimples, heartbreak, and hope for the future. Grab any kids you have or know—girls and boys, teens and pre-teens--and take them to this upbeat show. (Adults will get a kick out of it, too.)

No comments:

Post a Comment